Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents (https://www.dannyzeliskopresents.com/ )
Venue: Talking Stick Resort – Ballroom (https://www.talkingstickresort.com/ )
Date: Saturday August 7th, 2021
King Crimson is one of those bands that for some reason I never got around to see. I have loved the band since they released In The Court of The Crimson King in 1969. Wow, what can I say about that album? From it’s amazing cover to 2 of progressive rock’s classic songs, “The King of The Crimson King” and “21st Century Schizoid Man”, they are one of the most influential bands and have set the standard for all other progressive rock/metal bands.
Robert Fripp is the founding member of King Crimson and the only constant member of the band. He plays lead guitar and is responsible for the unique sound of King Crimson. Robert’s style is influenced by avant-garde jazz and European classical music. Robert has also worked with other greats including David Bowie, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. Robert sat in the back of the stage on a raised platform and played his distinctive guitar licks. The one thing about Robert, he is not flashy. He sits while performing all of the songs.
Most leaders of a band position themselves in the front of the stage. However, Robert instead stepped back and put the 3 drummers out front. These drummers, Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harris and Jeremy Stacey were awe-inspiring. I have seen 2 drummer groups (Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Tedeschi Trucks) and thought they were good. But to see these 3 drummers perform with the synchronization and flair was truly mind-blowing. They put on a drumming show that all other drummers would envy.
Jakko Jakszyk is now the lead singer for the band and he also plays rhythm guitar. Multi-instrumentalist Mel Collins fills in King Crimson’s unique sound with flute, saxophones, clarinet and keyboards.
Their original bass player and singer, Greg Lake moved on to form the power group, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) in 1969. You can definitely hear the influences of King Crimson in some of ELP’s music. Tony Levin replaced Greg and has played with the band off and on ever since. Tony has re-joined the band for this tour. Tony is one of those bass players that all great bass players love to see. Tony is truly a virtuoso. At tonight’s show he played a normal 5-string bass, along with his 2 stick basses. I have seen a number of great bass players and Tony is definitely at the top of that list. I also say a couple of great bass players in the audience just to see Tony perform.
The band did a 2-set show with a 15-minute intermission. The show started with the 3 drummers putting on a drumming clinic. It was incredible how good they sync’d with each other. The first set included one of my personal favorites, “The Court of the Crimson King”. It is one of those songs that if you hear the first couple of bars, you instantly can identify the song and the band. From the reaction of the audience, they also thought the song and production was great because it was the first of many standing ovations. They ended the show with their other mega hit, “21st Century Schizoid Man”.
King Crimson is not for everyone. If you wanted to see a band that you can dance to and sing with, then you don’t understand progressive rock. This style of music is more about listening to the musicians as they perform a master education in how to play the different instruments and form a complex song of multiple cords and time sequences. They don’t play simple songs with 3 cords and simple repeating lyrics. Progressive rock/metal is closer to true classic music in its complexity. If you like to see and listen to true masters perform and show off their talent, then King Crimson is definitely a band to see. A true sign of their greatness is that their influence extends throughout the entire progressive rock community.
The show was at the Talking Stick Resort’s Grand Ballroom. It is a nice medium sized venue. Tonight’s show was almost sold out in the assigned seating area with a large number people in the general admissions standing room area. I was extremely happy to see this large crowd, because the Phoenix area does not seem to respond well for a lot of progressive bands. Hopefully this is a trend in the right direction.
The one thing I will tell you is that Robert Fripp and the band request that no one takes any photos during the performance. If you do even from a cell phone you will be requested to leave. However, at the end of the encore they will allow photos of the band. For tonight’s performance I only saw 2 people take a cell phone photo during the second set and they did is very fast. Otherwise, the audience was extremely respectful and waited until the end of the show. Also, Tony Levin is a photographer and he like to take photos of the audience at the end of each show. You can check out Tony Levin’s photos on his Facebook page.
If you like progressive music then I would highly recommend going to see one of the greatest influencers of the movement, King Crimson. You can check them out on their Facebook page and website to find upcoming tour dates. If nothing else, you got to get the King Crimson’s In The Court of The Crimson King album cover art on a tee-shirt. It is one of rock’s most iconic images ever. Also, please check out Tony Levin’s Facebook page for some interesting concert photos.
Tony Levin’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/tonylevinofficial
King Crimson Setlist: (Album)
Drumsons (Bish! Bish! Bish! The Way To an Inclusive, Equitable & Compassionate Society)
Pictures of a City (In the Wake of Poseidon)
The Court Of The Crimson King (In The Court Of The Crimson King)
‘The Battle of Glass Tears – Part 1: Dawn Song’
Radical Action II (Radical Action to Unseat the Hold Monkey Mind)
Level Five (The Power to Believe)
Tony Cadenza Serves It Standing
21st Century Schizoid Man (In The Court Of The Crimson King)
The California Guitar Trio
The California Guitar Trio were the opening act at the King Crimson concert at Talking Stick Resort. The band is made up of acoustic guitarist Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya. They met at one of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft courses in 1987. Since then, they have produced 16+ albums and played with Robert and Tony Levin. They are an instrumental act and play a wide range of music.
Probably the highlight of their performance was their rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Echos”. It was amazing to hear the wide range of different sounds that this trio was able to produce with just 2 acoustic guitars and 1 stick bass. The audience really loved their version of “Echos” giving them a standing ovation.