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Archive for the tag “crimson”

Porcupine Tree Posts Round Up

Porcupine Tree was, for a number of years, my favorite new progressive rock band and, as a result, I tried to go see them as much as I could when I was not seeing Yes.  I have posted about them a number of times in this blog and you can find those posts below:

 

 

Random Concert Ticket Photos

As my readers know, I am a very avid concert goer.  Granted, since I have had children, I have had less time and less money to dedicate to seeing shows, but I still try to get two or three in every year.

For fun, I have already posted some tickets before, which you can find here:

I have also been to a variety of shows that really do not fit into any categories and I have posted a sort of grab bag of tickets below for various and miscellaneous shows.

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  • Asia (a program from this show can be found here and a review here)

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Program from 9/12/14 King Crimson Concert

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On September 12, 2014 I saw the progressive rock band King Crimson during their 2014 tour at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which featured a huge seven piece band with three drummers, two guitarists, a bass player, and a woodwind player.  I reviewed this concert, and that review, along with some pictures of the show, can be seen here.  It was easily one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen.

The Kimmel Center often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, and the September 12, 2014 King Crimson concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

Enjoy!

 

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Program From September 13, 2006 Asia Concert

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On September 13, 2006 I saw the progressive rock supergroup Asia during their 2006 reunion tour at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA.  I reviewed this concert, and that review, along with some pictures of the show, can be seen here.

The Keswick Theater often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, whether that show is a rock concert, ballet, or comedian or what-have-you, and the September 13, 2006 Asia concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

Enjoy!

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Concert Review: Asia 9/13/06

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On September 13, 2006 I saw the progressive rock supergroup Asia during their 2006 reunion tour at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA.

Asia, which formed and released their first album in around 1982, started its life as a progressive rock supergroup which combined members of great prog rock bands of the 1970s into a single band.  The band consisted of Steve Howe (guitarist of Yes), Geoff Downes (keyboardist of Yes and The Buggles), John Wetton (former bassist/vocalist of such bands as King Crimson, Family, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Renaissance, UK and Wishbone Ash), and drummer Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Atomic Rooster), along with Roger Dean as their cover and stage designer to boot.

It is worth noting that the band, in progressive rock circles, is controversial in that, despite the pedigree of all of its band members, the music the band created is not nearly as progressive as the bands of origin for its members.  Many prog rock fans felt let down by the more accessible music Asia released, however that did not stop the band from having great success.  For me, I think much one’s impressions of music (or movies or whatever) is dependent upon one’s expectations.  So, if one approaches Asia expecting a Yes/ELP/KC mash-up will be terribly disappointed.  I think if one approaches Asia on its own terms, it provides a much different impression.  I think Asia is really fantastic at what it does and I really enjoy that: they play really good stylized rock music that features good melodies and tight arrangements with good punchy solos that is influenced by prog rock.  Taking Asia on its own terms makes them much more satisfying.  I think Steve Howe said it best.  He was asked how a Yes guitarist could play Asia’s music and he replied (I am paraphrasing) that sometimes someone needs a 7 course meal (Yes) and sometimes someone needs a light lunch (Asia) and that both of those needs are legitimate and that music is no different.

Their first album was an enormous success.  It was the number one album in the United States for 1982, spent nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Charts, went quadruple platinum in the Untied States, sold about ten million copies worldwide, and spawned the number one hit single (for six weeks) “Heat of the Moment.”

Unfortunately for Asia, their second album, Alpha, though selling in the millions, did not do nearly as well as the first album which led to a even greater decline in sales for their third album, Astra.  There was also internal unrest within the band.  The Wetton/Downes writing team that proved so popular on the first album was pushed by the record company to lead the writing on Alpha which left Steve Howe feeling sidelined.  As a result, he left after the Alpha tour to form GTR with Genesis guitar player Steve Hackett.  John Wetton had his share of problems too.  He was suffering from alcoholism around this time and that, of course, negatively affected his ability to work with the rest of the band.  He stepped out for a time during the Alpha tour and was briefly replaced by ELP alumnus Greg Lake, whose time with the band is memorialized in the Asia in Asia video (along with some keyed down songs for Lake’s voice).  Wetton returned for Astra, but by then the band had former Krokus guitar player Mandy Meyer in for Howe.

By 1986 Wetton was gone and there was little interest in the band continuing.  Downes kept the flame alive with a half-new material-half-old material album Then & Now in 1991 but could not truly reunite the”classic” Asia, which led to an essentially new Asia led by Downes and bass-player-vocalist John Payne with a host of other musicians which only occasionally featured Howe and Palmer as guests here and there on record and/or live (notably Wetton stayed away until 2006 as described below).  The Payne-led Asia released several albums and toured extensively over the next 15 years or so but to considerably less success than the original supergroup.

By 2006 the Payne-led Asia was losing steam and there was a push to reunite the classic supergroup as its twenty-fifty anniversary approached.  So, in 2006, the original line-up reunited, which led to John Payne, through legal and practical means, creating an effective schism in the band, with his incarnation of the band essentially scrubbed from Asia history by retconning it to be that of another (new) entity called Asia Featuring John Payne.  The classic line-up was restored as if they had simply went on hiatus since 1986.  From 2006 onward they have released four albums (though their most recent album Gravitas lacks Steve Howe as he left again in 2014).

In celebration of their reunion, the classic line up of Asia went on tourin 2006 and I had the pleasure of seeing them and that is the inspiration of this post.  I took three photographs at the show which you can see below.  The set list was composed entirely of material from their first album and Alpha.  Their stage set was rather simple: just some lights and a large tarp bearing the band name behind them.   The band played loudly and powerfully and were able to play all of their old classics like they did in 1982.  They even played an acoustic version of”Don’t Cry,” which Wetton indicated was how he initially conceived the song.  One aspect of the show that I especially liked is that the band played one song from another band they each had been in before Asia.  So, they played “Roundabout” (a song from Yes, Howe’s previous band), “Fanfare for the Common Man” (an ELP song, Palmer’s previous band), “Video Killed the Radio Star (a Buggles song, Downes’ previous band), and “The Court of the Crimson King” (a song from Wetton’s previous band King Crimson).  Wetton’s choice was curious as that is a song from a time when he was not part of Crimson, but no one seemed to care.  The band pulled off these other songs with aplomb.  As these guys are getting a little older, some have noticed Palmer’s drumming to be less intense and the songs a little less aggressive, and that may be so, but I do not think it was very noticeable and certainly did not to detract from the show.  Indeed, contrariwise, it could be said that Wetton’s voice is stronger than ever.  All in all, it was a fun show with great music and great performances, and especially if one is an Asia fan.

Before I forget, let me add that the theater is a very nice, old, beautiful theater that sits about 1000 people and there is not a bad seat in the house for either visuals or sound.  It is a great place to see a show!

Finally, after the show was a reunion of sorts as my concert-mate (my father-in-law) bumped into some of his old band mates from his younger years and I bumped into my old co-workers from my years at Acme Markets.  So, a fun time was had by all.

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9/12/14 King Crimson Concert Review

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On Friday September 12, 2014 my friend Steve and I went to see King Crimson, that great pillar of progressive rock, live at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I have seen King Crimson or variations of it a few times over the years.  Specifically, I saw King Crimson live in 2003 at the Tower Theater in support of their then new album The Power to Believe.  That concert was amazing, albeit ear piercingly loud, but, as has been Crimson’s practice for many years, the set list consisted of only very recent material (relative to the date of the show) and group improvisation (I would note that, as it relied only on very recent material, the show was disappointingly short too as it was not even 90 minutes in duration).  Other than that, I have seen a Crimson subset (e.g.: a “FraKCtal”), ProjeKCt Six, and Robert Fripp as a solo performer, each open for Porcupine Tree at different times.  Of course, relatedly, I have seen Tony Levin live a few times in other contexts, namely with Liquid Tension Experiment, California Guitar Trio, and his own band.

Although I am an enormous King Crimson fan (they are in my top three with Yes at number one and (old) Genesis vying with Crimson for number two), I have not made a point to see them a lot mainly because, as I stated above, their practice has been to generally ignore older material in favor of the album or two immediately prior to the concert being played.  As much as I like new Crimson material, it is the old stuff that broke ground, made legions of devoted followers, and made me a fan, and it is that material I want to see and hear live.

When I heard that King Crimson was to go on the road with three drummers/percussionists, I thought that was interesting but not enough to go see them live as they have had two drummers/percussionists many times before (e.g.: 1972/’73, 1994/’95/’96, and 2007-present) and a third drummer did not seem to tip me in favor of paying the price of admission, especially if they would just play newer stuff.  Then I heard that venerable woodwind player Mel Collins would be rejoining the band.  Collins played with the band on their second, third, and fourth albums (1970 – 71), the classic Red, as well as their most recent offering A Scarcity of Miracles.  Now, the addition of Collins is interesting because, by and large, King Crimson has left the material of the early 1970s behind and I hoped that his presence in the band would inspire Fripp to mine King Crimson’s very rich back catalog.  Indeed, aside from a couple of tracks on Red, King Crimson has not had a woodwind player since 1971!  So, needless to say, adding one again in 2014 sent a clear message to me as to what the band’s intentions were for this tour.  Subsequent internet rumors confirmed that Crimson would be playing a generous swath of old material on this tour that has basically gone unplayed for four decades, so that sealed it for me: between the three drummers, Collins, and the material to be played, I now had to go see this show!  Indeed, I am happy to say that at this show, King Crimson played material from all eras of their history except the 1980’s and their lone album of the 1990’s (Thrak), which is fine by me as that material is my least favorite anyway (save for their latest album).  To make this happen, Crimson also featured players from all throughout their history and a new guy (Bill Rieflin) to boot!  As of this writing I am thirty-seven years old and I never thought I would ever hear some of this material played live by King Crimson and for that I will always be thankful I had the opportunity to see this show!

The venue was absolutely beautiful.  It usually is the theater for the Philadelphia Orchestra but I guess they also allow other artists to use it as well.  It is large with interesting curved walls, is made almost entirely of nice wood, and has a large pipe organ in the back wall.  A great setting for a great band.

As you will see below, after some basic information I will give an overview of the show, make comments on some individual pieces, and post some photographs of the show.

The band fielded the following line-up for this show:

Set List (the albums from which the songs are drawn are in parenthesis):

The only word I can think of for this show is “face-melting.”  This was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, bar none.  It was amazingly tight, intense, and relentless.  I thought the three drummers might create a noisy cacophony that would overtake the rest of the band, but thankfully that turned out not to be the case.  There were times when the drums became a little strong, but they never crossed the line and were generally tasteful and well arranged.  They did, however, take an already intense band to a level they had not yet achieved before.  There was clearly a pecking order among the drummers.  As one may expect, they tried a lot of different variations, but, generally speaking, Harrison was the “lead” drummer with Mastelotto supporting him and Rieflin providing a lot of color.  Rieflin also doubled as a keyboard player, especially for the older stuff.  I think the very expanded line up and multi-instrumentalists allowed the band to really flesh out their sound and capture many of the overdubs found on the albums.  Collins’ role was interesting.  Obviously he played the role he carved for himself on the pieces he played on originally.  When it came to the other material on which there was not originally a woodwind instrument in the music, Collins would often play in place of David Crossviolin or viola (King Crimson featured a violin and viola in its middle-1970’s period) or harmonize with the guitars or improvise a solo or melody over the rhythm created by the band (e.g.: during “Red” he would play a saxophone over some of it).  Although Fripp seems like an imposing and inflexible figure, I have to say that he is surprisingly (to me) an extremely unselfish lead guitar player.  He very often allowed Jakszyk to play his own lead parts (or shared them with him) or solos and, when Collins did not, Fripp would duplicate some of Cross’ violin/viola parts on his guitar.  I have to say that one of the best parts about seeing a concert, especially of a talented band playing challenging music, is seeing how the band can “pull it off,” and this show, with its three drummers and woodwind player to boot, was no exception!  The only thing missing from this show that has always been a feature of a King Crimson concert was improvisation.  There was no group improvisation, as has been so typical of Crimson for decades and even many of the solos did not vary much from the albums at times.

As usual, Fripp entered the stage from the opposite side from rest of the band.  Once he got situated on his stool and behind his wall of electronics, the show began in earnest.  They all wore some variation on a three piece suit.  The stage presentation was interesting: all the drummers lined up front while the other four stood on risers behind the drummers.  There was virtually no stage presence or visual show at all.  The stage was brightly lit and equally lit on all parts of it.  There were no spotlights or changing light colors or any sort of visual element to the lights at all.  It was lit just as the orchestra would be lit, for the utilitarian purpose of allowing the band to see one another and allowing the audience to see them.  Also, the band did not appear to have any amplifiers of their own on stage.  They used the venue’s public address system to play their music.  I am not sure if the lights and sound set ups as described above were due to the venue’s rules or the band’s choice, but neither adversely affected the music.  Consistent with having very little stage presence, all players stood in their place (or sat in the case of Fripp) rather stoically and played their music, and rarely engaged personally with the audience.  Indeed, as common for him, Fripp sat facing the band instead of the audience. Their lack of audience engagement even extended to them not having any inter-song banter.  They just began their show, played one song after another, and finished.  In fact, as my friend Steve noticed, they never (at least not as we noticed) even counted off the tempo to begin a piece of music.  Each piece began as if the band were of one mind.

The sound mix was challenging with the three drummers pounding away.  I can say that only on a couple of occasions did the sound get a little muddy which, unfortunately, almost always caused Collins’ saxophone to get lost in the mix.  In saying that, I have been to enough concerts to know that a good mix for my section of the theater is not necessarily good for another, and vice versa, so one cannot be too critical of the mix.  I do have to say that Levin’s playing very often got buried by the two guitars and the woodwinds.  Granted, he is the bass player and is supposed to lay down the bottom, but I would have liked to hear him a little better throughout the show.  Luckily, the band was tasteful in that the seven players did not all insist on playing something at all times if the music did not warrant it.  Interestingly, I have been to many many many concerts and this is one of the only shows I can think of where no one in the band ever gestured to one another or to a sound man off stage to adjust his volume levels.  I am not exaggerating when I say that they all entered the stage, played their songs one after another without fanfare, and then concluded.  The only light moments were, on occasion, between some of the songs where they would play goofy and spliced clips of interviews with the band and a sometimes inarticulate interviewer.

Some of the songs had some interesting highlights which I note below:

  • Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part 1

As much as I looked forward to this show, I was a little skeptical as to how they would pull it off, and opening with this piece is a bold statement.  After the drummers played the tuned percussion opening and Fripp’s guitar played Cross’ violin part to introduce the piece, all of my concerns washed away when Jakszyk played the opening guitar line (which was originally played by Fripp on the album) in literally (to my ears) the exactly same tone and sound as the album.  I knew then this was the real deal and this was going to be a fantastic show.  This piece was as it should be: complex percussion, loud and crunchy riffs, and a foreboding quiet sections (where Collins’ flute replaced Cross’ violin).

  • Pictures of a City

I was surprised to have heard this piece as it has not been played since 1970!  This is the first song off their second album and when this was played I knew the band was going to be going deep into the back catalog!  Unfortunately, Collins’ saxophone was little buried in the mix at times.  Jakszyk’s voice was not quite as clear, pure and choir boy like as Greg Lake‘s voice (who originally sung on this song and is my favorite singer) but it got the job done.

  • The ConstruKction of Light

Collins played a saxophone over some of the more complex guitar lines which was an interesting addition.  On the album, this track segues seamlessly into a second part of this song (tracked separately) which includes vocals in order to conclude it.  At this concert, however, the band elected to conclude it differently by merely allowing the music to gradually slow into a gentle pastoral section led by flute, in a way very similar to how the Genesis song “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” concludes.

  • One More Red Nightmare

This is one of my favorite Crimson songs.  Collins was really able to wail away during the instrumental sections.  Interestingly, between each main guitar riff, each drummer took his turn playing the drum breaks.  Jakszyk tried his voice on this John Wetton (the original singer of this song) tune, but, like his attempt to sing Lake’s material, his voice just is not quite right.  This time, Wetton’s voice is a little too soulful and harsh for Jakszyk to duplicate effectively.  As expected, this piece was loud and intense and aggressive.  Fantastic.

  • HooDoo (new for this show)

This was a mellow, quiet, and pastoral instrumental piece for electric upright bass and two flutes.  Jakszyk unexpectedly played the second flute.  This piece was composed for the tour.

  • Red

As expected, this piece was aggressive and meaty.  Levin played his electric upright bass during the quieter parts which effectively reproduced the bass cello played by Mark Charig on the original recording.  Moreover, at times Collins improvised a saxophone solo over the rhythmic parts to this piece.  The three sets of drums added an interesting dimension to this piece by making it somewhat march like.

  • Sailor’s Tale and The Letters

I was so surprised to see these tracks from the very obscure and mostly ignored album Islands.  What a delightful surprise!  The enlarged band line up was able to fully play all of the parts on the album and really flesh out the sound; the keyboards and Levin’s electric upright bass did well to capture the music as found on the album.  The cymbal work by the three drummers was very tastefully done; at one point they were playing light taps in sequence one after the other.  Jakszyk, now reproducing  Boz Burrell‘s voice, did a really good job presenting his vocal parts.  He really captured the tone and sound of Burrell’s voice.

  • Level Five

This is another song where Collins, having no role when the song was recorded, took the opportunity to play some improvised saxophone lines over some rhythmic parts.

  • Hell Bells

This was a drum trio piece written for this tour.

  • The Talking Drum

This is one of my favorite Crimson pieces, and the three drummers really took it to the next level.  I just wish Levin’s bass was not so buried in the mix on this.  Collins and Jakszyk added interesting dimensions as well, sometimes covering Cross’ parts and sometimes not.

  • Starless

What a classic King Crimson piece; some consider it the best ever.  I have seen this track played live once before by the band U.K. which features John Wetton who sung on this song originally with Crimson.  King Crimson played this song live before it was recorded for the Red album (as can be heard on The Great Deceiver) and the band used a violin in the piece and no woodwinds.  When it was eventually recorded on Red, Cross and his violin were out and Collins and his saxophone was in, as that is as it was in at this concert as well.  I am not sure which performance I liked better.  U.K. had Wetton’s soulful voice and authentic bass playing along with Eddie Jobson‘s amazing keyboard and violin playing.  At this show, Fripp played the mournful guitar lines as only he can play them, Rieflin played the keyboard lines, and Collins played the saxophone parts he recorded forty-years ago.  All I can say is that this piece of music is simply amazing and this concert was no exception.

  • Encore: Hell-Hounds of Krim

This was another drum trio piece written for this tour, this time very reminiscent of “B’Boom” from Thrak (which was originally a drum duo piece).  

  • Encore: Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

The band closed with the very first song from their very first album which, as it happens, may be their most famous.  The blasting saxophones and searing guitar were vintage Crimson excitement.  Levin’s bass was buried again, but it did not really matter.  Although the band played it a little slower than the album, the fast runs and abrupt starts and stops were impressive nonetheless.

And now for some photographs!

Tony Levin takes photos from his perspective of the show and blogs about his concerts, and this one was no different.  You can find his blog entry on this show here.  In the photos from the stage that Levin took, you can see me five people to the right of the big guy in the red shirt on the third balcony; below is a photo from Levin’s page and you can barely see my head.

Finally, Steve and I took some photos at the show as well and they are posted below.  Steve took the first two and I took the rest and Levin’s photo is posted last.

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