Robert Fripp in Aylesbury, 1st September 2015: a review
Face recognition technology has come a long way, but given my own face, the best of systems would have matched at least half of the capacity audience at the Aylesbury Waterside last Tuesday evening. Yes, King Crimson were playing.
At 7.40, 7 people, dressed as for a funeral, came onstage and played, ultimately leaving at 9.40 to have a cup of cocoa and an early night. Rather like GYBE they chose not to say anything, but they did turn on the lights so we could see (and count) them. Mr Fripp played thousands of notes, the odd one of which that now and then - heard in isolation - could maybe have been played by someone else, but not many.
It was difficult on entering the auditorium not to notice three very large drum kits prominent at the front of the stage. Hmmm. As it turned out, they produced greater width than depth in the percussion, and were both a visual and auditory spectacle. These chaps knew what they were doing: impeccable and utterly faultless timing. We especially enjoyed the section where each drummer had three sticks in each hand - perhaps they each had three foot pedals going as well, it was hard to tell.
The mellotron defines a musical era. Of course, the electronics to produce that sound would now fit in something half the size of a box of Swan Vestas, and this was duly done in Aylesbury. When I saw Mr Fripp in Exeter in 1972, the stage was dominated by two mellotrons which took up slightly less space than three drum kits - a slight shame that this spectacle has fallen into history.
After exceptional applause and a delay befitting their egos, KC played a long encore. Local boy Jakko Jacszyk had a convincing Lake-a-like voice and the irony of playing In the Court ... was not lost on us. Nor yet was the über-irony of playing C21 S.M. 15 years into the century. Then the house lights came up, and I repaired to the King's Head with Spike and Matthias, where I forebore to sing word perfect versions of Cat Food or Ladies of the Road, both of which Mr Fripp had carelessly overlooked to exhume.
When I saw Mr Fripp in York in 1974, he maintained as always his silent still position at the rear of the stage while the orchestrated mayhem took place in front of him. Near the end of the show, he condescended to come to the front and gaze at us, saying "You do realise, if I were a guitarist from Slade you'd be throwing underwear at me by now"; then he reassumed his position and said no more. Amusingly, I travelled through Wolverhampton to see yesterday's gig.
As previously advertised I'm going to see them again in Birmingham on Monday week. Cannot wait.