Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #95: King Crimson Holds Court in Madison

November 20th, 2006

King Crimson has been on my mind lately for various reasons. I noted over the weekend that Robert Fripp’s contributions to the Windows Vista sound scheme is now known. In addition, that latest issue of one of our local music rags, Rick’s Cafe, has an article by local muso Biff Blumfumgagnge. Biff is a man of many hats, or fezzes in his case, and the piece was about his role as front of house sound man for Fripp’s recent solo tours here in the States.

bobf Show #95: King Crimson Holds Court in Madison
(Photo found here.)

I also noted that a good interview with drummer Pat Mastelotto was recently posted at InsideMusic.

patm Show #95: King Crimson Holds Court in Madison
(Photo found here.)

And so the stars were aligned perfectly for a King Crimson podcast.

This week’s show was performed on 23 November 2001 here in Madison, Wisconsin at the Barrymore Theater. The Barrymore is a wonderful, small theater that seats around 850. I was in attendance with a couple friends and we stood by the bass amps with Trey Gunn right in front of us. This, coupled with the fact that John Paul Jones opened, was an especial treat for my friend, Dogger, who was formerly a bass player. Jones’ gymnastics on the 10-string bass were great and I believe that his role as opener on this tour was the first time he’d played live in support of his first solo album, 1999’s Zooma. Well, in the States, anyway.

treyg adrianb Show #95: King Crimson Holds Court in Madison
(Photo from treygunn.com.)

For their part, Crimson were trying out some new material prior to recording it. They had played some shows during the summer, including opening for Tool on several West Coasts dates, and had released the Level Five EP. The performance that night featured four songs which would go on to appear on their 2003 album, The Power to Believe: “Dangerous Curves”, “Level Five”, “eleKtriK”, and “Virtuous Circle” (it became “The Power to Believe II”).

I thought the show was great and had a blast. As a non-musician, it was neat to be so close and be able to see how the music was made. It was much easier to differentiate Belew and Fripp’s guitar parts, for instance. And I was amazed with Gunn’s agility on the Warr Guitar and Chapman Stick. But I think the greatest revelation for me was Pat Mastelotto. While I’d seen him with Crimson before in 1995, I was about 30 rows back and he was sharing percussion duties with Bill Bruford. As he stated in the interview linked above, Mastelotto’s role in the mid-90s double-trio incarnation of Crimso was mostly to provide the backbeat and keep time which allowed Bruford to let loose on the top of his kit. It was at this concert that Mastelotto really stepped out from Bruford’s shadow for me. I was floored by his performance as he was like a whole percussion section unto himself. But his style wasn’t overly-busy. It was amazing because I’d watch him play and his limbs were flailing like mad, yet his part(s) fit into the song instead of dominating it. He had truly come a long way from his days in Mr. Mister.

The recording here was made from the audience but it’s a good one. A little heavy on the bass but still more than listenable.


Dangerous Curves
Larks Tongue in Aspic, Part I/Level 5
ConstruKction Of Light
Into The Frying Pan
Thela Hun Ginjeet
Virtuous Circle
Level Five
ProzaKc Blues

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King Crimson

kc01 Show #95: King Crimson Holds Court in Madison
(Photo from treygunn.com.)

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