Thursday, March 10, 2016

King Crimson - Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre November 20th, 2015 (DGMLive, 2016)

Since its surprising return to touring in 2014, the most recent incarnation of King Crimson has become a bruising septet consisting of leader Robert Fripp on guitar and keyboards, Jakko Jakszyk on guitar and vocals, Mel Collins saxophones and flute, Tony Levin on basses, Chapman Stick and backing vocals and the three percussionist lineup of Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin and Pat Mastelotto on drums and electronic percussion. The group has been touring regularly and this “official bootleg” has been released as a download with a physical release to follow. While much of the discussion about this version of the band has been about the percussion heavy three drummer lineup, there is quite a bit more going on, and the music has subtlety and grace to match it’s frenetic power. The playlist is a mixture of the old and the new, with warhorses like “Easy Money” and “Starless” getting their first public performances in quite a while. Jakszyk has his work cut out for him singing those songs as well as “The Court of the Crimson King” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” which fans will so strongly associate with earlier vocalists John Wetton and Greg Lake respectively, but he throws himself into the challenge and does a fine job conveying the majesty and malice of “Starless” and “Court” as well as the sly humor of “Easy Money” and sheer lunacy of “Schizoid.” The band opens the concert in a quiet fashion calmly building “Larks Tongues In Aspic Part I” which features excellently shifting rhythm and flute from Mel Collins, who plays to the home crowd by touching on “Oh, Canada” in his solo. Quite a bit of disc one is instrumental with muscular versions of the powerhouse “Red” and a full throttle “Vroom” but “Pictures of a City” is one of Jakszyk’s finest vocals with the band in full flight around him, and there is an appropriately moody version of “Epitaph” to conclude disc one. The second disc is equally dynamic with a sly “Easy Money” early on and then a devastating finale/encore of “Starless” > “The Court Of The Crimson King” > “21st Century Schizoid Man.” The band is really a finely tuned machine at this point and this is an excellent release, especially welcomed by those who were not able to attend a concert on the 2015 tour. The group is white hot, and the setlist choices and band performances are continuously interesting. King Crimson - Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 20th, 2015 - DGMLive

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