An observation from Shawn Perry
After countless daring “lockdown” videos with Mrs. Toyah Wilcox, Robert Fripp is back in the driver’s seat of the Mothership Crimson. It’s impossible not to expand your appreciation for all that is right about music after seeing a King Crimson performance – and their Nashville concert at the sacred Ryman Auditorium was no exception.
Previous sightings at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles during the carefree days leading up to the pandemic had prepared me for a rigid, but casual, sumptuous, all-sensory performance of King Crimson. During a more specific period in modern history, would it be less available with a slight ring of trepidation at the Ryman? Only those with a foggy imagination would notice.
Pretty much every seat in the Ryman offers an optimal view that you don’t have to photograph, but remember. In accordance with their usual guidelines, a strict rule against photography of any kind was enforced through not to be missed signage on the stage, along with ushers telling certain people who saw them not to take photos or record videos with their mobile devices. This guideline is driven by good intentions – first and foremost, it prevents the reach of limbs trying to capture the moment for virtual enjoyment, while blocking the view of those behind you who are there for real-time enjoyment.
Cameras in general have always been a nuisance to Robert Fripp, but he has now come to terms with the fact that they are used at the very end of the band’s concert. In fact, Fripp, bassist Tony Levin, and other band members have a habit of taking photos of the audience after they put their instruments down for the night. It’s a great way to turn the tables for smartphone video and camera enthusiasts.
As in previous appearances, Crimson brought her friends, the California Guitar Trio, to support at the Ryman. Today’s list has been supplemented by the inclusion of Tom Griesgraber for Hideyo Moriya. While Moriya is a third of the unique, layered sound of CGT alongside Paul Richards and Bert Lams, Griesgraber is a master on the Chapman Stick who adds a whole different element.
After playing through five numbers from their extensive catalog, the California Guitar Trio blew the lid off by diving into a blissful, well-formulated version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”. This detour alone seemed to have satisfied the experienced progger’s unspoken desire for authentic responsibility. Not that the trio need it – they’ve been on the KC sauce train since the 90s.
After a short break, Music is our friend The show began embracing Nashville with “The Hell Hounds of Krim,” a violent display of percussive ingenuity with triple action on the front line by Pat Mastelotto, Jeremy Stacey and Gavin Harrison to let the audience know how in sync each musician was on the The stage is is with each other. It won’t work any other way.
Tonight’s setlist tiptoed through three specific eras of King Crimson’s career – her promising beginnings (“Epitaph”, “The Court Of The Crimson King”), the changing mid-70s (“Red”, “One More Red Nightmare ”,“ Starless ”) and the streamlined comeback of the early 80s (“ Neurotica ”,“ Indiscipline ”,“ Discipline ”). The two hour timeframe didn’t leave that much room for improvisation, although instrumental catwalks like “Radical Action II” and “Level Five” certainly provided the opportunity.
Stacey’s job is twofold, not only contributing to the drums, but also playing keyboards and zones in one of those dreamy Mellotron parts that are an integral part of “The Court Of The Crimson King” and “Starless”. In truth, not a single musician, not even Fripp, leads the way. It’s more of a waterfall approach that iteratively comes together and builds on melody and molecular structure and often transcends them.
When the seven members of Crimson – Fripp, Levin, Mastelotto, Stacey, Harrison, singer and guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, and horn player Mel Collins – bowed, there was a sense of overwhelming musical satisfaction in the Ryman. Within these sacred walls, so much greatness has sweetened its essence. Adding King Crimson’s sharp tear at the sound waves to Nashville’s burgeoning work of musical tastes emanating from institutions like this is simply the way to go.