Written by Walter Tunis
"I Wonder If That's Really It"
King Crimson Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, Ohio September 2, 2021 As the last reverberations of “21st Century Schizoid Man” settled, triggering a merry, mutual photo session between King Crimson and its audience at the Rose Music Center, a bittersweet sentiment sifted through the crowd. It was reflected very matter-of-factly by a patron sitting next to me. “I wonder if that’s really it.” The remark reflected widely circulated (meaning rumored) scuttlebutt that the mighty Crimson’s current North American tour will be its last. Of course, the band has issued no official statement on the subject. It’s a good bet, in fact, the musicians themselves don’t definitively know what the future holds. But if this was indeed part of the last-go-round for Robert Fripp and company, then they are going out on a jubilant note – well, a whole lot of jubilant notes. Like the near annual treks Crimson has undertaken since reinventing itself in 2013/14 as a seven (and sometimes eight) headed beast fronted by three drummers - Gavin Harrison, Jeremy Stacey (who doubled on keyboards) and longtime Crimsonite Pat Mastelotto - this performance was a stunning presentation of living history. The 15 tunes making up the concert covered eight different albums spanning five decades. But the specific “whens” didn’t really matter. All of the material was presented with an almost symphonic electricity. The drums didn’t just establish grooves, they played off them, orchestrated them and at times even harmonized with each other during specific passages. Mel Collins’ turns on flutes and various saxophones enhanced the color of more pastoral moments while turning more open-ended passages into jazz joyrides. Guitarists Fripp and Jakko Jakszyk proved a daredevil tag team, especially when their dizzying runs locked horns with the drums. And then there was Tony Levin, who navigated the same treacherous rhythmic waters as his cohorts on bass and stick while also providing each workout with subtle, flexible but substantial foundations. In other words, the technical command of Crimson remained stunning with a repertoire covering a half-century that in no way resembled a collective museum piece. Whether it was through works from the 1969 debut album, “In the Court of the Crimson King” (in particular, the still-elegantly ruminative “Epitaph) or comparatively newer instrumentals composed by the current Crimson lineup (the roaring percussion/guitar workout “Radical Action II”), this is a modern thinking unit. For instance, the pastoral sweep of “Islands” remained rich and warm, reflecting the concert’s quietest set of dynamics. Credit Jakszyk’s vocal lead and Collins’ saxophone flights for making the piece sound fresher than any supposed “prog” song from 1971 has a right to. Similarly, a comparatively recent (if you want to call 2001 recent) excursion like “Level Five” remained a stirring blend of electro/acoustic percussive ingenuity and warp-speed guitar fire. If there is a single piece that best reflected the sound and strength of this current Crimson incarnation, “Level Five” gets the prize. Also, for an ensemble with so many moving parts, this seven-member crew performed expertly as an actual band. A drum break from Garrison during “21st Century Schizoid Man” and an earlier serenade by Levin on electric upright bass were among the only unaccompanied solos performed during the show. But the members all soloed generously through the evening within a band context. Everything coalesced with the set-closing “Starless,” a still-stirring 1974 composition that swept in like an evening fog before a middle section broke away for an ominous ensemble groove that slowly gathered intensity and dimension with guitars and drums both anchoring and playing against the groove. The tune also allowed for the show’s only visual indulgence, one that gradually bathed the band in blood red lighting. So if this performance was, in fact, “it” – meaning, the show was part of the concluding Stateside chapter in the 50-plus year saga of King Crimson – then the band is leaving with more than a mere bang. It is exiting by illuminating nearly all its creative history with the vitality and invention of the here and now.
Written by Paul Graham
It was indeed epic!
I traveled about 70 miles for this show (I really like this venue anyway). I had seen two earlier versions of KC (Larks/Starless Band and the Discipline Band) - both of which were amazing shows. The musicianship in those bands was incredible. But this band now, this show was stunning to me. I have never seen a band do anything like what this band does. I really hope this wasn't my last KC show - but it it was - it was stellar! Thanks lads!
Written by Duke
!!!INCREDIBLE, STUPENDOUS, OUTSTANDING!!!
I traveled a little over an hour to come to this show. I made the trip with some good friends who were less familiar with the band, but nevertheless hold KC in high regard. My friends were blown away! I was so happy that they could see what I had been telling them about. I came in with high expectations and I was well satisfied! What an incredible group of musicians. Unbelievably disciplined and creative at the same time. Myself and my friends are all under 30, so we were not able to see earlier iterations of the band, but this ensemble is truly remarkable! At the end of Epitaph, my friend turned to me and said, “That was pretty epic! I felt like someone was telling me an epic story and that was the theme music!” We aren’t positive, but we think that a guy a couple of rows in front of us was actually crying. It was epic indeed! It was my first time seeing KC, in addition to my friends, and I knew that baring an act of God, I was going to be there. The venue was nice, covered, but open air. The show opened strong, continued and progressed all they way through the end powerfully. The drums at the opening of Indiscipline were unbelievable. Really the drums the entire show were out of this world! As Starless played the lights slowly changed to red, so that by the crescendo a deep read covered the entire stage. It was amazing! KC came back out for an encore, 21st Century Schizoid Man, amazing! The show in total went for just shy of 2 hours. The opener, The Zappa Band, gave a great performance as well! I took pains to try and remember the set list, however, as the show went on I got a little confused so this is the best I can remember. If someone remembers better than I, please correct me. For the other reviewer, here you go: Drum intro<Pictures of a City<Epitaph<Red<One More Red Nightmare<Tony Levin bass solo<Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2<Islands< The ConstruKction of Light (maybe, not certain?)<THRAK (maybe, not entirely sure?)<Level Five<In the Court of the Crimson King<Indiscipline<Starless Encore: 21st Century Schizoid Man (with an absolutely divine drum solo from Harrison!!!)
Written by Will FIGHTS
Once in a lifetime event
I was there. I went by myself, the first time in 65 years I've ever done that. I'm certainly glad I did! The musicianship of these extraordinary people is absolutely magical, I will never forget it. I wish I could get a setlist, I don't know the names of all the songs, I listen to ALBUMS not TRACKS... the highlight of the evening was a solo Gavin took that was so unbelievably presented that Pat broke out into applause at it's end. I wish I had the means to jump on a plane and follow you guys around, but I cannot do that. Thank you SO MUCH for coming within an hour of where I live, I am forever grateful.
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