Exposé Online banner

It's been 31 years since the Crimson King appeared at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. In December 1969, the original quartet was at the end of their first American tour, tired, spent, and just downright frustrated. The group was on a triple bill with both the Nice (led by Keith Emerson) and the Chambers Brothers (an R&B vocal group), which typified the mixture of musical styles in a Bill Graham venue for the day. Fast forward to the present and although Robert Fripp and his new quartet have adopted many guises, none are more brutal than the projekctized version, which has been successfully redefined for the new millennium.

by Jeff Melton, Published 2001-03-01

King Crimson is now a leaner, meaner, industrial-strength incarnation which is teetering on the perimeter of a vital internet skirmish. Make no mistake; this king was smoking hot — using Fripp's terms, "a Hot Date" in a sold out standing-room-only chandeliered room. For the opening few minutes of the gig, trademark ambient tones swirled from the PA. It appeared that there was no opening group again for this gig (not like they'd have a ghost of a chance anyway).

Crimson started the show with "Red" from the 1974 classic album of the same name. It is remarkable how this piece implies the power and aggression of three decades of sinister command. The set list was more varied than on the previous night, with three tracks from Discipline migrating into the set. New material from the Virgin release, The ConstruKction of Light, included a giddy version of "Into the Frying Pan" and the title track.

Adrian Belew was in top form the entire evening with his Hendrixian approach acting in stark contrast to the more studied Fripp approach. For my money, the best wagers of the evening were when all eyes focused on Fripp for "Frakctured" and "Larks Tongues in Aspic Part IV." Besides the indirect link back to pieces from the 70s catalogue, these variant beasts are intricate workings of timing and guitar technique. This does not in anyway hinder their value within the live presentation since, in my opinion, this is the closest Fripp himself has been to reclaiming guitar idol status since the 70s. Now that the man has returned to the front of stage left, his role has been elevated back to counter-soloist. His relentless performance on these two tracks together with Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto's counterpoint made the evening one which I will forever treasure.

Older pieces didn't hold up as well rhythmically. Gunn does more than his able best, while Mastelotto doesn't appear to have the precision to make "Thela Hun Ginjeet" or "Frame by Frame" hold up, but that was a minor flaw. Adrian closed out the show with a solo acoustic version of "Three of a Perfect Pair" followed alternately by the remaining three for another sonic excursion, "Thrush." "Dinosaur" was the final piece of the evening before another overzealous fan attempted the predictable "flash" live photo, which signaled the end of the gig. Regardless, the band is back again with a vengeance to divide and conquer the sonic mat and hopefully make new converts along the way.


Filed under: Concerts, Issue 21

Related artist(s): Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, King Crimson, Pat Mastelotto, Trey Gunn

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Little Tragedies - Sixth Sense – I am having a bit of difficulty identifying my issues with Little Tragedies' third release The Sixth Sense and I don't wish to sound negative. I have tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to...  (2008) » Read more

Kate Bush - Aerial – As listeners and consumers of music, we generally have contact with artists only through their work, and are only aware of their lives outside music as they present it in their recordings (unless they...  (2006) » Read more

The Underground Railroad - The Origin of Consciousness – I found the Underground Railroad’s debut CD to be an uneven affair. Some parts were very good, others less interesting, and in general, the band seemed to be in search of a direction. With their...  (2006) » Read more

Mastermind - III - Tragic Symphony – Mastermind's third album is the first to see release on a major label. Mastermind are Bill and Rich Berends (brothers from New Jersey) who continue on in Volume III much as they did with the first...  (1995) » Read more

Trigon - Emergent – This amazing psychedelic rock dynamo from Germany (now a trio of guitars, bass, and drums – by brothers Rainer and Stefan Lange, and Tihomir Lozanovski respectively, with former keyboardist Udo...  (2007) » Read more