David Kronemyer

Capsule Review – King Crimson at the Greek Theater

June 21st, 2017 by David Kronemyer · No Comments

We very much enjoyed last night’s King Crimson concert at the Greek Theater. Having been a fan of the band for a very long time, it was good to see them in their current lineup. One of the distinguishing features of this version is that it has three drummers on the frontline, with the rest of the players bringing up the rear. We sat 4th row center, so we were overwhelmed by their power, which was thunderous and magnificent – something you don’t see every day, for sure. The rest of the group was in fine form, particularly Mel Collins and Tony Levin. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Bands like KC face a dilemma – do they try to develop and introduce new material, which the audience might not like – or, do they just play what they’ve already done, which the audience probably will like, boring though it might be for the band. KC has elided this problem, primarily for two reasons: (1) the band has long tenure and durability, so there’s plenty to choose from; and (2) each of the stages in the band’s development has been distinct, quite different from the others, so there isn’t a single monotonous frame of reference.
The flip side of this is that it might be confusing for potential audience members, who aren’t quite sure what they’re going to see. Will it be Greg Lake? Will it be John Wetton? Will it be Adrian Belew? My guess is that everybody there knew exactly what was going to happen with the new band. But its very eclecticism may be one of the ingredients preventing it from achieving broader appeal. The venue seats 5,700 and it looked to me to be about 1,000 seats short of full, suggesting there’s a natural ceiling on KC attendance, even in a gigantic, futuristic, media-saturated city like Los Angeles.
Another consideration is that the current iteration of many bands is much better at being one of their former iterations, than the former iteration actually was at being that iteration. Among other factors, members have matured, reconsidered their repertoire, and presentation has improved. This certainly is true of KC, which now offers a more vigorous reinterpretation of their many past lives. There have been times when Robert Fripp, the headmaster, has eschewed these former selves; it was a pleasure to hear him now embrace them. The concert pulled from all eras of the band’s existence. It was particularly gratifying to hear songs from “Lizard” and “Islands,” two of their most neglected records, both of which resonate deeply for me with a special poignancy. Altogether a wonderful, magical evening under balmy skies in Southern California.