Performing Arts Centre Milwaukee United States

There are some gigs where, to borrow a phrase, “when it all comes together it is as if the angels descend from heaven on their silver clouds and play their golden trumpets”, and there are others where such heavenly ambitions remain elusively out of reach. The band sound tired and irritable on the 12th date of their last tour together.

An incomplete LTIApt2 is marred by the band not being able to hear each other properly resulting in different players being left on the wrong side of the beat, and the violin irksomely flat. Lament doesn’t fare much better with Cross’s ‘tron being out of tune and other missed cues abounding in a somewhat dashed-off Exiles.

Although improvisations are a normally a speciality of this incarnation, the main one between Exiles and The Night Watch somehow never quite catches fire. It’s driven by a restless Bruford trying out a series of speculative beats, as though taking the temperature of the band. With Cross developing abstract clouds on the electric piano and Fripp sounding strident notes, it’s not until around 3.00 minutes before they settle on a fast-moving direction. Yet even at this juncture there’s a degree of diffidence evident and none of the flying sparks more usually associated with this band.

Live versions of Starless are enough of a rarity to make each of them somewhat special. Wetton’s vocals on Starless come at a point when the words had yet to be pinned down and so he’s heard to what amounts scatting his way through the verses. Fripp and the bass / electric piano sections struggle to stay on target during Bruford’s percussive excursions, and as Starless concludes, it sounds more of a stumble than a dramatic resolution. This soundboard tape is missing the set-finishing Schizoid Man but perhaps that’s a good thing given the below-par performance overall?
TRACK
TIME
01
Lark's Tongues In Aspic Pt II*
06:07
02
Lament
04:23
03
Improv I
01:37
04
Exiles
06:56
05
Improv II
08:28
06
The Night Watch
04:42
07
Starless
12:26
Written by Gregory S Keyes
Improv 2!
This is an outstanding show, with some really interesting, and different, guitar by Fripp on Exiles, and the second Improv is one of the best from this band. Great funky chording, propelled by the drums...really sounds like nothing else from the ’74 band. Excellent!
Written by Jack Floyd
That was... strange...
What to say of band when the collective heart seems to wish vacation? Perhaps that the result might be a performance like this one.1972 KC has rarely touched me, mainly because, while Collins, Wallace and Burrell seem very often into their own raucous selves (musically speaking), RF goes through the motions many a time.The "1972 RF syndrome" has affected the whole band on the occasion here presented. OK, turns out it is difficult, not knowing the circumstances which lead to this point, to blame a particular cause or another, however, it seems a ghost visited the band during their sleep and stole their magic until the next concert.The cut-in "Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part II" is a bad omen as the violin sounds a tad scratched and the rhythm quite off - What is that? - also, the rest doesn’t sound too good either, with lotsa miscues, bad timing and whatnot, all bound to fall apart and, on occasion, doing so. Even Cross’ solo is all about near finds, with the echo added causing only notes to cluster together."Lament" is the highest point of the performance. I find Wetton’s vocal inflections here quite fun to hear, where there is certain humour in the way he’s singing the pessimist lyrics, and the reverb present is a good touch; that is a relief to perceive, specially given how off his bass is in the "pre-storm" section. And then there’s RF, with a painful wail of a solo quite unlike his other ones from this song and quite like other pure-hatred beams from 1972-74.What happens next is more likely a result of drainage of will and spirit: An ugly, brief improv lingers until "Exiles" is slowly introduced by Bruford from the general blot, but the latter is almost like a shadow, Fripp’s solos and Cross’ phrases both failing to provide any useful resource to the song. It comes and goes almost as if dragging itself over a minefield.THE mark of this era’s Crimso is the mindblowing improv, therefore Improv II is the black sheep of the pack and the strangest of them all. I must go against the flow here and say the first 3 minutes are the best here, where some little precious melodies loom over the general heavy atmosphere, before that is broken by the most rhythm and riff autopilot I’ve ever seen this band in - not a pretty listen. Afterwards, "The Night Watch" walks in the same way as "Exiles" previously did... Watch the cues, boys!This time "Starless" does not allow catharsis but, quite perniciously, sighs from relief. The end is a mess and the leading up to it is equally tricky, fingers fall off of Mellotron keys and solos sound strangely contrived. The audience applauds but I guess that’s more like consolation rather than true enjoyment of a show which falters on so many levels.The final assessment of this recording is like listening to King Crimson without King Crimson, a band sounding like it and playing the songs you’ll expect but without any of the combustion, impulse or accuracy.To me the result is more than the fault of a strange board mix filled with eccentricities, but also of a band that doesn’t seem to be in a good hair day, or a good anything day, for that matter. Luckily, Toronto, Asbury Park, Penn State University, Providence and Central Park came to rectify the scenario.
Written by Matt George
not as bad as they say
i went ahead and downloaded this concert, despite what others have said about it. it’s not as bad as they have made it out to be. With the exception of Improv #2, which is horribly scattered and leads absolutely nowhere [it sounds as though they aren’t listening to each other at all], the mix isn’t all that bad, and the rest of the tracks are your usual standard fare for concerts in June 1974.  I was hoping that the improv, at some 8 and a half minutes long, would have some redeeming value, but.....it doesn’t. one request: the next one for release should be the concert from the Shrine Auditorium June 19th, 1974....ok?....the improv on that one brings tears to my eyes, but i have a bad quality/incomplete recording......thank you.    
Written by Kevin Shelton
Action Breeds Reaction: It's The Mix, Not The Performance
Human reactivity is a common vice. Case in point: The 1973-74 version of King Crimson has been posthumously praised to the heavens, perhaps to the stage where the trumpet-bearing angels themselves are becoming a little resentful. As a result, of late we see inferior periods of the band (1971-72; 1981-84) trending upward, and the magisterial 1973-74 outfit, it seems, trending downward. Do the books really need to be re-balanced? I don’t think so, but listeners should decide for themselves. ¶ The relevant questions here are the following. Is this performance on a par with those of "the week of miracles" (6/24-7/1/74)? No, it isn’t. Is it as poor as the DGM review claims? No, it isn’t--not even remotely. Is the problem that the musicians are tired and irritable? I don’t think so. This is merely a very eccentric mix, and that is what I think has put the DGM reviewer off the scent. ¶ To give just a few examples: John Wetton’s bass is generally much further down the mix on this tape than it has been in other soundboard tape mixes. David Cross, by contrast, is louder in the mix, which makes his occasional flat playing--usually caused by monitoring problems, it is true, and not confined to this gig--more noticeable than usual. The ending of "Starless" seems peculiar mainly because the guitar drops almost completely out of the mix at that point, and we are mostly left with a "power trio" consisting of Cosmic Mellotron of Doom, bass, and drums. ¶ The improvisations, as usual, are a matter of personal taste. This one is entertainingly all over the map, with elements of the "usual" ’74 improvs mixed with jazz fusion-ish bits reminiscent of the 1973 tours. It’s neither the best nor the worst that this tour has to offer. ¶ Finally, since there are only forty-four minutes’ worth of material here, I question the validity of asserting that the entire performance must have been sub-par--unless the set really was that short, which is possible, if they were a supporting act, but still doubtful. ¶ In sum: This is an odd mix. Some may like it, others not. I am on record as saying that all the Summer 1974 dates are desiderata, and those who agree shouldn’t be put off this one by a review that equals the mix in its oddity. ¶ Finally, let me say that I look forward to equally "objective" reviews of the post-1974 era. ;-)
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