Tuesday, September 22, 2015

King Crimson @ Olympia, Paris - September 20th, 21st and 22nd 2015

Last time I saw King Crimson was twelve years ago, and the band looked and sounded very different. They were a quartet playing very futuristic music, with electronic flourishes and metallic undertones. They are now a seven headed beast, including three (!!!) drummers positioned at the front of the stage.

Crimson has never gone the obvious route, or done things the usual way. Which is why they are the only band to have kept advancing. But now for the first time, they are allowing themselves to look back.

Which doesn't mean they have adopted a retro approach, and which certainly doesn't mean this is another exercise in nostalgia from reunited old rockers. In fact, Fripp has assembled personnel from various previous eras of the band as well as new blood in order to better shake things up. Old compositions are given a clever re-imagining, while newer ones are introduced to an audience who came in knowing not to hold on to expectations. Lasciate one esperanza, voi ch'intrate.

Three nights in this venerable music hall, three nights of pure music with slightly different set lists. There is no star, no focal point: all the musicians are flawless, committed and inventive. And there are no highlights: all compositions are equally thrilling, with breathtaking moments of tension leading up to a climactic release.

Until recently it was looking unlikely that King Crimson would ever play again, and that we'd have to get our supply of Crimsoid insanity through one of their offshoots like the wonderful Crimson ProjeKct. Thankfully Robert Fripp is an unpredictable fella, and King Crimson can live and breathe again.

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