King Crimson

Live at the Orpheum

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By all accounts, the somewhat unexpected 2014 King Crimson tour was a resounding success and Live at the Orpheum is the first offering for those who were unable to attend. The band had been reinvented with a combination of new and returning players and the set list consisted largely of tunes that hadn't been performed live since the '70s, if at all. The main wild card was the three-drummer front line, which easily could have turned into a mess, even without music as challenging as Crimson's. Well, the time the three drummers (Pat Mastelotto, Bill Rieflin, and Gavin Harrison) spent rehearsing before convening the entire group was well worth it, because they play with a single mind throughout. The returning Mel Collins sounds fantastic on all manner of saxophones and flute, and hearing Tony Levin's amazing bass playing on all these old King Crimson tunes is a real treat. Although there will always be haters, Jakko Jakszyk does a fine job on vocals and guitar and, of course, so does the 'venal leader' (as Fripp has referred to himself) on guitar. The two new-looking tracks are little more than teasers: the walk-on music performed this particular night by Fripp, Levin, and Collins (there was different walk-on music each night) and "Banshee Legs Bell Hassle" by Mastelotto, Rieflin, and Harrison. The band launches straight into "One More Red Nightmare" and the possibilities of the three-drummer lineup are immediately apparent. "The ConstruKction of Light" is the only tune that doesn't date back to the '70s, but the addition of Collins' flute makes it seem like it does. Live at the Orpheum is a series of highlights, but what fans could have thought they'd ever hear "Sailor's Tale" performed live? "Starless" is stunning. The only disappointment here is that the album is basically only five songs, so here's hoping it's just a taste of more to come.

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