Music review: King Crimson, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

The experimental rock band played as close to a greatest hits set as possible. Picture: Contributed
The experimental rock band played as close to a greatest hits set as possible. Picture: Contributed
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AS BLUNTLY intimated on the ticket, this Evening with King Crimson was to feature “no support, no interval” – music to the ears of the faithful who have waited decades to see this most respected experimental rock band who filed on to stage, dressed to impress, in a reconfigured line-up which guitarist and band leader Robert Fripp refers to as “the seven-headed beast of Crim”.

King Crimson

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

****

Longtime singer Adrian Belew is absent, with vocals now handled by guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, but woodwind ace Mel Collins has returned and took his place in the prog orchestral set-up beside charismatic bassist Tony Levin and the phlegmatic Fripp behind a frontline triumvirate of drummers. When Pat Mastelloto, Bill Rieflin and Gavin Harrison flexed their muscles there was nothing to be done, except submit.

The rigour of the playing contrasted with the free structure of much of the music, making the first half of the show slippery for the Crimson rookie to handle - though, in fact, the setlist was as close to a greatest hits array as a band with no actual hits could muster and the opening bars of Epitaph and Easy Money were greeted with satisfied exhalations in the audience.

However, they saved the big guns for a heavy duty encore of prog rock archetype The Court of the Crimson King and a truly mighty 21st Century Schizoid Man powered by headbanging riffola, wailing sax, impassioned vocals and an intense drum solo from Harrison.