I enjoyed two "hot dates" with the 2015 version of the seven headed Crim during their UK tour and was absolutely blown away. They were experiences that I can't quite explain as they impacted upon me deeply, profoundly and intensely. Experiencing and enjoying the music in person, naturally, I was keen to revisit the experience via an official DGM live recording. The Toronto show filled that gap very nicely but being just one show, there were various numbers missing, notably "One More Red Nightmare" which was a major highlight in the shows I witnessed. Thankfully, DGM were on the case, promising and delivering this epic set containing a rendition of every song in the 2015 repertoire.
The trio of audio CD's have the audience removed and mixed to studio quality. There were some who grumbled about this approach whereas personally I felt it offered a more immersive experience, to sit within this band and study the finer details. What soon becomes clear is that in spite of solos here and there, this band operate as a seven headed entity, fusing elements from each decade of Crim history and creating something new and fresh. Robert has stated that "the music is new whenever it was written" and this amply proves the point as familiar favourites are given a fresh makeover, retaining the vital elements given a new sheen. Like many, I was skeptical of the triple drummer idea but when I saw it in person, it made perfect sense - forever etched into my mind are the images of Pat Mastelotto intently focused playing as if his life depended on it, Bill Rieflin's cool calm demeanour (plus bringing those glorious Mellotron parts to life) and Gavin's impeccable timing. Jakko is a magnificent and versatile singer and guitarist, faithful but adding his own personal touch. Tony is regarded as one of the finest bassists in the world and this is a joyous masterclass in proving why. Then there is the master that is Mel Collins, playing as superbly as ever and adding some surprising parts and texture to songs he didn't play on originally... the second night I saw them after the third number, I heard a chap behind me exclaim "that sax player's f***ing great!" to which I could only nod in agreement. Finally, Robert Fripp - wonderful to hear him enjoying himself, delivering as only he can. Seven distinct elements fused together and the overall effect is incredible proving that this music remains remarkable and timeless. All the performances chosen here are excellent and that brings me to the Blu Ray.
It is one of the most enjoyable shows I've ever watched, though I willingly admit, it fails to capture the actual experience of being there, in the moment with the band in person. It gives a great impression and a real feast to be able to focus on each player and see what they are doing up close and in detail. The way it's been edited and presented is that the majority of the time, you can see all seven members in action. The editor seems to know exactly when we want to see close ups of whichever player so you see the solos in all their glory without any fancy graphics or fast cuts, instead opting for a laid back slow/soft fade approach that makes the whole thing more immersive.
Regardless to say, this lovely package is a must buy as an encapsulation of King Crimson circa 2015 in much of their glory, but I must state that you have to witness them for real in person to get the full glory.