Tuesday 15 September 2015

Live Review: King Crimson @ Lowry Theatre, Salford, 11th September 2015

By: Anthony Firmin

The Review

By 22:30 I was back home, tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate and with the cat at my side, so what went wrong?  Well, nothing…

When Robert Fripp announced back in September 2013 that King Crimson were to reform, after an enforced hiatus of 6 years, thousands of Prog heads worldwide became very, very excited.   Other than a few tantilising videos nothing more was really head from them until 2014 when they toured the USA playing a selection of old and new material.  Fast forward to September 2015 and a UK tour is underway including even more old material which has been “reconfigured” along with a slightly differing set list every evening – the archetypal King Crimson fan’s wet dream.

Ten of the 18 pieces played were from the 70’s with the 80’s completely ignored which was a shame because the drum/rhythm led work from that period would have slotted in nicely.  From the opening piece, Lark’s Tongue In Aspic, through to the set closer, Starless, we were treated to a journey through the past and a glimpse into the future.  That future being more jazz/dissonant oriented which received polite applause, the older audience reserving their energy for the older classics. 

The way the stage was set up was with the three drummers (Pat Masteletto, Bill Rieflin and Gavin Harrison) at the front and on a riser at the back were on sax/flute Mel Collins, bass/stick/cello Tony Levin, guitar/vocals Jakko Jakszyk and finally on guitar/frippertronics Robert Fripp.  This gives a feeling of unease, and the drum sound was unbalanced to an extent, presumably on purpose.

Fripp remained seated the whole show, hardly acknowledging that there was even an audience in attendance.  He was simply sat looking at his iPad and wearing headphones whilst playing guitar, in his own solitary Crimson world.  However, his playing although sometimes lost in the mix was sublime.  The rest of the band were all faultless, they are all seasoned world-class musicians after-all.   Jakszyk’s vocals were less than ideal with him having to copy Greg Lake and John Wetton; he tried, bless him, and his vocals were fine in their own way but he lacked the depth and power of those particularly on Easy Money and Epitaph.  The double retro encore of In The Court Of The Crimson King and 21st Century Schizoid Man saw the audience at their most appreciative as the band were perfect but again vocally Jakszyk lacked Lakes passion and drive whilst delivering the classic lyrics “Cat’s foot, iron claw, neurosurgeons scream for more, at paranoia’s poison door, twenty-first century schizoid man” – they should have stabbed me through the heart, they merely patted me on the shoulder!

Overall an interesting experience that, if rumours on the internet are true, may never be repeated; we will wait and see.  Musically travelling from psychedelic rock anthems and classic Prog rock to jazz the only real bummer was when the house lights in the Lowry were on at 21:45 hence the early night.  At least the cat was happy to see me even if I was singing “Cat’s foot, iron claw…”!

Set list:

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (Part I)
Pictures Of A City
Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)
Hell Hounds Of Krim
The ConstruKction Of Light
Level Five
Banshee Legs Bell Hassle
Easy Money
The Letters
Sailor’s Tale
One More Red Nightmare
Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row
Court Of The Crimson King
21st Century Schizoid Man