King Crimson in Washington DC: Timeless music in a city of drivel
Tony Levin was right: something changed about King Crimson in Mexico City earlier this year. He wrote in his diary:
There is the feeling that this 5 show stand is an important chapter in the history of the band… It’s been, as I said, a memorable time here - we’ll see if it somehow influences the future of the band - I have the feeling it will.
There was something different about the band from when I saw them earlier in the year in Minneapolis and Chicago. It’s hard to describe. They felt more comfortable — like a new house or apartment that has been broken in after a few season.
But maybe it was just me. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them on tour this year, and maybe I’m finally starting to get this new eight-headed beast of King Crimson.
But probably, it was just me, as Fripp said when he announced before the tour on YouTube:
Unless you’ve seen this King Crimson live, you really don’t have the right to hold an opinion on it… Unless you’ve seen this band live three times, your opinion is not likely to be substantial.
So maybe seeing this incarnation for the third and fourth time this weekend, I can now fully understand what I’m saw on stage. I do feel a deeper understanding of what was at work, even if I can’t fully explain it (maybe that will be in posts to come). But I’m certain something has changed with the band as well… It’s a constant in everything.
But it’s for the better. Here are some personal highlights from the show:
- Both performances were at Lisner Auditorium on campus of The George Washington University. There was a very different vibe than the pervious two shows: the University theatre was not tainted by many of less pleasurable aspects of live music, including security, extremely overpriced food and drinks, etc. It immediately felt like it was going to be an intimate show when we walked in and could see the no recording signs from the front door.
- Fripp’s guitar solo at the end of Lizard both nights were amazing.
- The three song melody of Radical Action was one of my highlights from the show. The songs are maturing and it’s great to hear in person.
- The reworking of the first part of “Radical Action” was outstanding. I loved how they’ve changed the song and variated the speed of it. Meltdown is my favorite of the new music. And Level Five on Sunday was the best rendition of the song I’ve ever heard/
- “Breathless” was a real treat — did not expect it.
- As was “Discipline.”
- The second night had some of the best versions of some songs I’ve heard. In addition to Level 5, the middle section of “The Letters” was exhilarating by Mel’s sax and everyone playing off of it. The first half of “21st Century Schizoid Man” sounded harder and faster than I’ve heard it with this lineup. It was like a runaway train.
The venue was just down the street from the White House, a source of discontent, ineptitude and idiocracy in our world today. And with all the surrounding drivel, it was especially poignant to walk by all of it and enjoy some timeless music that, if listened to, can potentially drown out the dull chatter and unlock a deeper understanding of who we are and the world we live in.