The big item this week is the return of live music into my activities. To wit: I went to the first and third King Crimson shows in Chicago this Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
When I first heard that Crimson was re-forming, I knew that I had to go. At the time that I found out I had not yet moved back to the Chicago area but I knew I was going there so I bought myself a ticket. The wife is not a live music or King Crimson fan and I don’t know any King Crimson fans in Chicago so I knew I would be going alone. At the time that I bought my tickets the Thursday show seemed the safest. They hadn’t yet announced the Saturday show and I was pretty sure M-F nights would not be taken by any other activities. I wasn’t so sure about Fridays or weekends.
This tour, Crimson was playing at the Vic. I’d never been there before so I had no idea what the venue was like. I was pretty sure it wasn’t one of the big halls but that’s about the extent of my pre-knowledge. I was able to get a seat in the seventh row center on the main floor. Not too shabby. It turns out the Vic isn’t that great. There’s no permanent seating on the main floor so we had to sit on small folding chairs that were lashed together so we couldn’t even move them over a bit. I’m a big guy and it wasn’t the most comfortable seating. Luckily the quality of the music made me forget about the minor discomfort.
In the lead-up to the show I was following the earlier shows on the tour. I pretty much knew what songs would be played since they were out on the internet. I did a little pre-listening to make sure I knew the songs. It was good for me to do that because I was totally unfamiliar with any King Crimson albums prior to the mid-70’s incarnation (starting with Larks’ Tongues in Aspic). There’s some nice stuff prior to that, I found out.
Finally, this week the show. Really enjoyed it. Thinking about it now, I guess Crimson (and it’s offshoots like the ProjeKcts) really is my favorite band. Some issues with the sound, though. With the drums being front and center and there being three of them it was at times hard to hear the other instruments. On Friday, on a whim, I decided to check if there were any tickets left for the Saturday show. Turns out there were. This time I specifically looked for a seat in the Mezzanine. It turned out to be a good choice. I enjoyed the Saturday show much more. One reason was that I could hear all the instruments much more clearly. Other reasons: The band seemed to be having more fun. The set list was changed and I felt it was even more effective than the Thursday show’s. Kicked (and I do mean kicked) off with Red, then One More Red Nightmare, Then VROOOM and Coda: Marine 475. Followed by Scarcity of Miracles, a song (and album) that has been growing on me the more I listen to it, and a couple of tunes from the more recent incarnations of the band. Following that, a couple of tunes from the pre-mid-70’s version of the band and The Light of Day, another selection from the Scarcity of Miracles album. The pre-encore part of the show wrapped up with a Larks’ Tongues in Aspic sandwich (with The Talking Drum as the meat) and Starless. A nice touch was all the lights going red during the final number.
The encore consisted of a new piece by the three drummers and 21st Century Schizoid Man. I’ve got to say this: the Saturday show was Fucking Great! After Thursday I was glad I went to that show but way more glad I gave in to the temptation to go to the Saturday show. Hopefully this won’t be the last of the Crimson King.