Thursday, January 29, 2015

King Crimson - Live at the Orpheum (DGM, 2015)

It was one of the biggest musical surprises of 2014 was to learn that Robert Fripp was re-forming King Crimson, and with a three drummer front line to boot. This is an LP length live album featuring the highlights of the band’s two shows at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles this fall. The three drummers could make for some tough sledding but they work well together and do not get in anyone’s way. The vocals of Jakko Jakszyk taking a little getting used to especially when he sings material from the Red album, as his voice is much different than John Wetton’s booming vocals on that album. After the walk on soundscape the group launches into one of those pieces, “One More Red Nightmare.” Slashing drums and guitar pack a wallop in addition to a fine sax break. “Banshee Legs Bell Hassle” is a light and spacious percussion piece reminiscent of an older King Crimson composition, “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part I.” A more recent composition is “The ConstruKction of Light” which is anchored by throbbing bass and drums with angular guitars playing off of the rhythm. Mel Collins is featured on flute and saxophone and acquits himself very well. An acoustic opening and dramatic vocal from Jakszyk usher in “The Letters” which heats up fast with guitars, saxophone and pummeling drumming. Collins is the secret weapon of the band and adds an appropriately raw saxophone to the proceedings. “Sailor’s Tale” develops a rumbling beat and an absolutely scalding guitar interlude before the band puts the pedal down and closes with full power. The album ends with one of King Crimson’s most stalwart compositions, “Starless” with its wide open beginning and emotive vocals giving way to slithering guitar and saxophone which slowly ramp up the pressure and intensity leading to an explosive payoff and majestic ending. This is but a sample of the music from the tour and at forty-one minutes in length it leaves the listener wanting more. This album serves as a postcard from their very successful American tour, hopefully with many more to come. Live At The Orpheum - amazon.com

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