In the Court of the Crimson King

I saw King Crimson Saturday night at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. It was by far the best KC show I’ve seen and this is my fourth one. Just blown away.

One thing that made it a special night is my friends Rich and John were in town to see the show too. Rich was my old college roommate and guitar player for Infingon, and John was the bass player, and also plays violin and several other instruments. Both are still active in music. Rich was the one who originally turned us all on to Crimson back in the day. As Infingon went on we played more an more prog. Our setlist included two Crimson numbers – Great Deceiver and 21st Century Schizoid Man, as well as material from Yes, Rush, ELP, Genesis, UK, Supertramp, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Doors, U2, The Police and a handful of others. So it was a great reunion for us.

This tour Crimso was in their so-called seven-headed-monster configuration, even though it’s been expanded now to eight musicians. The most dramatic addition to the lineup was the return of Mel Collins. Mel played every sax and flute they make, but spent most of his time sqwonking on the bari in the altisimo register. Fripp played mellotron as well as guitar, and with another synth player gave their sound alot more range and color. Tony Levin back on bass and stick. Three(!) drummers arrayed across the front of the stage did lots of exciting things with big unison, counterpoint, tonal/rhythmic zones and passing the beat around. Jacco Jascszyk on vocal and guitar had really strong interpretations of Greg Lake and John Wetton songs, and even one from Adrian Belew, literally a unifying voice across a vastly diverse set.

The group was unbelievably tight, yet loose, and had a great sound. Like with Mahavishnu I’m amazed at how good a group this large, loud, and dissonant/arrhythmic can sound. You could really hear everything and there was alot going on. I think live sound reinforcement has really evolved for one thing, and an acoustically good venue helps too. And of course the level of musicianship is out of this world.

The song selection was everything you’d hope for. The show was two sets, three hours. The first set opened with a triple drum solo. Then they did a host songs from In the Wake of Poseidon, Lizard, and Islands, all updated interpretations, and some instrumental jams. Toward the end of the set they did Epitaph, then Starless off of Red, and finished with Indiscipline. Jascszyk sung a melody to replace Belew’s rap, very effective.

The second set opened with another triple drum solo, and some more instrumentals and deep cuts from the pre-Wetton era. They did Moonchild right into The Court of the Crimson King, basically the second side of that record. Wow. Followed by Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two, then Easy Money, really jamming out. Totally amazing. Each song was opened up, 10 or 15 minutes long. The encore was a roaring rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man, again opened up for solos. Just unbelievable. Totally satisfying.

After the show we went out to a diner to continue to catch up.