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Archive for the ‘King Crimson’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 26, 2021] Osees

I didn’t really know the Osees very well when I bought tickets to this show (which had been rescheduled, but I didn’t have tickets to the original show).  I knew them more from knowing their history of names changes.  [They have recorded as OCS, The Ohsees, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees and now Osees].  And also from the Levitation/Reverb Appreciation Society live stream/quarantine shows.

Because of this, and because of the chill nature of the opener, Mr. Elevator, I never expected the show to be as wild, raucous and mosh pit filled as it was.

The first indicator should have been when the two drummer set up at he front of the stage (nods to King Crimson, there).  But it wasn’t until main Osees guy (the only one who has been in all iterations of the band) John Dwyer came out on stage (off to the left as we faced the stage).  He noted that it was Sunday, the Lord’s day, then he started playing “The Dream” and the crowd went apeshit.

Within minutes I was pushed pretty far to the side of the crowd, safely out of the way of flying feet.

Their set covered albums from 2011 (their twelfth album) through to last year’s Metamorphosed (their 23rd album).  It was glorious. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 4, 2021] King Crimson

This show was originally scheduled at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, which would have been an amazing place to see King Crimson.  The sound would have been incredible, and it’s only 30 minutes from my house.  When this was first rescheduled, it appeared that they’d be playing at the Count Basie in Red Bank, which would have been fine–great sound, but a further drive.  Then it wound up at PNC Bank Center, which has less great sound, but is a nice venue and is very easy to get to.

A few days before the show I heard an ad on the radio that said this was King Crimson’s final tour. I hadn’t heard that before.  And maybe if they had originally played in 2020, they might have done another stretch into 2021…who knows.  Anyhow, an article recently said that yes, this was probably the final tour, but they didn’t want to make a big deal about it.  So it’s possible that this will be my final King Crimson show (five times in eight years is pretty good–especially for King Crimson).

The last few times King Crimson has played two 90 minute sets.  But this time they had the Zappa Band opening for them.  Which meant that they’d do only one set.  Sadly, for the same amount of money.  But oh well.  What this meant was that they did a 90 minute set that almost felt like a greatest hits (of the last few tours) package.

I decided to splurge somewhat for this show–not paying for a VIP, sorry Robert–but I was reasonably close and more or less in the middle.

The back row has remained consistent throughout these tours: Tony Levin (bass, Stick, keyboards this time, too); Mel Collins (saxes, flutes); Jakko Jakszyk (guitar, vocals), and of course, Robert Fripp (guitar and more).  From this vantage point I could see everyone very clearly, which was ideal.  A very obnoxious couple sat down next to me but there were, thankfully, two empty seats on the other side of me so I slid over and was able to sit between the heads of the two people in front of me for an unobstructed view.  The obnoxious couple left mid set…huh. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 4, 2021] The Zappa Band

When this tour was announced, I was pretty pleased to see that The Zappa Band was opening for King Crimson.  I’ve been a fan of Frank Zappa’s music for years, but I never saw him while he was a live and I’ve never seen any of the various posthumuous offerings that have come around.

I’ve often thought about going to see Dweezil play his dad’s music but I haven’t (looking at the setlist, there’s quite a lot of good stuff there).

But this was an “official” Zappa project, and better yet they were going to be playing where I was planning to be.  Although this lineup isn’t exactly chock full of great Zappa names, everyone in the group has a connection of some merit.

The Zappa Band’s lineup features Zappa alumni Ray White (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Keneally (guitar, keys, vocals), Scott Thunes (bassist) and Robert Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals), and ZPZ alums Jamie Kime (guitar) and ZAPPA archivist Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers (drums, vocals).

I recognized Ray White’s voice immediately (he’s been on 20 plus records).  The other voices were actually quite close approximations to the original.  But really the most amazing thing was hearing  these really complicated and fast pieces done live (and perfectly).

I was pretty delighted to hear “Zomby Woof” a nonsensical song that I’ve always liked.  And I would have been thoroughly disappointed if they hadn’t played “Peaches en Regalia.”  It was somewhere during this song t hat I realized that none of the people on stage was Dweezil Zappa.  I was fairly certain this was his band, but it clearly was not.

I have listened to most of Zappa’s albums many times, (but he has about 1,000 releases).  So I was surprised when I didn’t recognize some songs.  I was even more surprised to find that “I Ain’t Got No Heart” was on Freak Out, and album I particularly like. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TOM JONES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #220 (June 7, 2021).

Tom Jones does not look as sexy as he once did (he was 81 on June 7), but wow his voice is as powerful as ever.

It’s a poignant moment in the life of a singer whose career spans 56 years and more than 100 million records sold; the passing of his wife, Linda, in 2016 after 59 years of marriage was devastating and resulted in the longest break between recordings of his career. But now Tom Jones is back with a new album, Surrounded By Time, and ready to share his deepest feelings, channeling songs by others with a voice still rich and muscular.

Jones may be 81, but you can see the generations of musicians who want to play with him here.  Stephanie Ward (with a great organ sound) could be his granddaughter and I’ve seen drummer Jeremy Stacey play with King Crimson!

The songs on the album (and for this Tiny Desk) deal so eloquently with time and aging. Tom Jones sings Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup Of Coffee” and going “down to the valley below.”

“One More Cup of Coffee” opens with some slow upright bass  and gentle drums.  I love Ward’s organ sound on this track.  Spare but perfect.

Then, he takes on Malvina Reynolds’ folk tune “There’s No Hole In My Head” and turns it into a fierce statement about being yourself.

For “There’s No Hole In My Head” Ethan Johns gets a surprisingly Indian (sitar?) sound out of his guitar.  Nick Pini switches to electric bass and Jeremy adds percussive sounds to his drums.  Tom really belts out the song.

He ends the set with “I’m Getting Old” a slow, sad ballad.  Ward plays piano and Jones sings these words.

When Tom Jones was 33, and after one of his infamous shows in Las Vegas, jazz composer Bobby Cole presented him with the song “I’m Growing Old.” With lyrics including “I’m growing dimmer in the eyes / I’m growing fainter in my talk / I’m growing deeper in my sighs / I’m growing slower in my walk.” Tom Jones didn’t feel old enough to do it justice, but he held on to it. His performance here brought me to tears and is well worth the wait.

I love to think of Jones as a young stud belting out songs.  Hearing him singing about being old is pretty intense.

[READ: July 1, 2021] “Dream Fragment”

This month’s issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue and features three pieces of fiction  and three poems.

The second piece is a poem. It is about the winter, which is a little odd for a summer reading issue.

An unnamed woman was seen at her door speaking to each of the seasons.  She had a clear preference for winter.

The weather was jealous and would see what it could make of her face. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD plays Nothingface (streamed May 31, 2021).

When I saw Voivod a few years ago, I was delighted with how good they sounded.  I only wished they’d played a few more songs from my favorite album of theirs, Nothingface.

Well, here it is, mid lockdown and the Voivod guys have answered my request.  They are going to play the entire Nothingface album live.

Over two days in May they recorded the entire album live–an album that all four of them had to learn all over again.  Some songs they had never played live.  And, of course two of the guys were not in the ban when Nothingface came out.   Indeed, bassist Rocky was only 15 and guitarist Chewy was only 13 when the album was released.  [It’s not that weird, singer Snake was about 25 at the time].

It could have been a disaster (but they wouldn’t have aired it, I’m sure).  But if you’re going to replace a unique composer like Piggy, who better to use than the kid who has been a fan of Piggy since he was 13?  Chewy gets Piggy and has even written tab books for all of Voivod’s albums–showing all of the complex and bizarre stuff that Piggy created.  Rocky actually acknowledged Chewy’s books as what helped him to learn the songs (even though he played the album every day for a year when it came out).

They did not play this in front of people.  Rather, they played in a studio.  But director Catherine Deslauriers designed the studio to project images behind the band as they played. It doesn’t feel quite like a Voivod show since they interact with the audience so much, but it feels very live.

From the opening chord of “The Unknown Knows,” this show was amazing.  The sound was fantastic–I was especially impressed with how great the drums sounded.  I don’t think I ever realized what a beast Away was on the kit.  Rocky’s bass sounded awesome and Chewy’s guitar parts were spot on.  Snake’s vocals sound pretty good too considering he’s thirty years older.  His voice is unique in metal–that thick accent and slight growl–and it’s all in place.  When Chewy hit that screaming bent note and the song paused then jumped into the next part, it was magical.  And when Chewy played those crazy chords in the section after it I knew the whole thing would be great.  Oh, and Rocky’s bass sound during the end part was perfect.

The only thing was that they didn’t play the coda to the song, but really, that’s quite alright.  They had to move on to “Nothingface.”  The jump from the angular sharp parts to the catchy “lapse of time/syncho-freeze” is just so good.  An I really enjoyed watched Snake sing the “Cold cold choke cold” part.

Before “Astronomy Domine, there was a brief interview with Snake.  He talks about how he didn’t want to do a cover, especially someone as big a Pink Floyd.  He also jokes about how hard it was to learn the harmonies–it was like Spinal Tap. But Piggy knew what he was doing.

And the harmonies with the new guys sound perfect.  They had been playing this on the tour that I saw them, but my show was a little shorter because it was three bands so they didn’t play it.

It segues perfectly in the opening bass notes of “Missing Sequence.”  It’s a cool slow moody intro before snake shouts NOW!  The harmonies on this song are so good and the way it jumps from this chugging heavy part to the staccato “down down, far underground” is tremendous.  Away’s alternating double bass is a great component.  There’s another great place for Rocky’s bass to sound fantastic.

Rocky speaks before “X-Ray Mirror.”  He speaks only in French and talks about seeing the Nothingface tour when he was 15 and just loving it.  He even took a promotional poster and had Snake sign it years later when they met.

I love the jazzy riff in the middle of the song and the thrashing double bass drum–Away’s drumming is just outstanding in this song.  Followed by the resolutely King Crimson chords  and the great fast thrashing section with the funky bass line and the wild solo

“Inner Combustion” has a striking ascending guitar riff that leads to the heavier section of the song. The distinctive snare blasts between each verse is such a distinctive aspect.

Chewy interviews before “Pre-Ignition” and he talks about how the album was the soundtrack to his teenage years.  He was 13 for this, his first show.  He was shorter than everyone but pushed forward and stood by the speakers until he got pushed back by the mosh pit.  he also mentions a launch party that aired on Solidrock.

Chewy studied contemporary composers in a course.  He was listening to a song and said “woah Stravinsky stole something from Voivod.”  Strange chords and time changes.  There’s even middle eastern harmonic minors.   Those orchestral guitar parts are so cool and very dramatic.  There’s really harsh chords and Away going nuts on the drums.   I always like the vaguely Middle Eastern part “ground and rock and sand come crumbling tumbling down.”

Away introduces “Into My Hypercube.”  He says whenever we go on tour I like to buy scientific magazines to read on the road.  In the 80s it was Omni and Discover.  He came upon an article about scientists representing visually a cube in 9 dimensions.  He and Snake had a chat trying to imagine living in a hypercube in a 9 dimensional building and he wrote these lyrics.

Away says that this song reminds him of “Remember Tomorrow” from Iron Maiden–his favorite metal album.

You can hear that in the slow echoing bass opening.   I love the way it goes angular and harsh and segues perfectly into the more catchy mosh part followed by a really heavy pounding section before a ripping guitar solo.  And once again Rocky’s great bass sound ends the song.

The show ends with “Sub-Effect” a song that builds dramatically into a pounding bridge and has a complicated riff that jumps into the “too late for SOS” funky bass and unusual guitar melody.  The show fades to black on yet another of Piggy’s bizarre but wonderful chords.

In a couple of weeks they are playing all of Dimension Hatross, and album I don’t know as well.  Bu I have time to learn it.

[READ: May 30, 2021] Redfork

I had just read a couple of violent and bloody graphic novels when I picked up this one.  The cover alone is pretty gruesome.  And I thought, what is it with stories that need to be so gory?  I don’t have an answer for that.

Then the story opens on a couple of hicks trying to steal drugs from the doctor’s office.  I have little time for stories of meth addicts, so that combined with the gore, meant that this story had a long way to go to engage me.

And yet it did.

Because it went places I never would have expected.

When the two boys were stealing drugs, the doctor walked in on them and one of the boys got scared and killed him.  The story jumps to six years later when Noah is getting out of prison.  He is huge–been working out the whole time, clearly.  His best friend D-Ray is there to pick him up.

I don’t know who storyboarded this book.  Maybe it artist Nil Vendrell, but he did some really cool things.  I love on one of the early pages as they are driving back home, the car stays in the middle of the frame but the scenes change around it and in the white borders there’s random townsfolk–showing everything Noah sees.  It’s very effective.

As is a later page that runs clockwise–counter to all graphic novel reading.  But it’s done with such a great purpose and effectively conveys a moment of two people at a distance from each other. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: April 1, 2020] Stick Men [rescheduled from August 5, 2020; moved to April 28, 2022]

indexSellersville Theater has been experimenting with limited seating at some shows.  But they decided to postpone this one.  I’m assuming if it’s a “real” band as opposed to a cover band, they’d want as much capacity as possible.  Regardless of when this gets scheduled, I can’t wait to see these guys up close.

Back in June, as larger shows were getting postponed into August and September, I held out hope that August might allow for some smaller shows like this one.

I had never heard of Stick Men until after a King Crimson show when I heard some fans talking about how amazing Stick Men are.

The band is a trio of Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter.  Levin and Mastelotto play in Crimson (stick and drums respectively) and Markus Reuter plays his eight string touch guitar covering much more ground than a guitar or a bass.  Mastelotto’s drumming encompasses not just the acoustic kit, but a unique electronic setup too, allowing him to add loops, samples, percussion, and more.

To be able to see these musicians up close (without all the distractions of the amazement of a King Crimson concert) would be so cool.  Stick Men play once in awhile, although the last few times they’ve been around I couldn’t make it.

Rescheduled to April is a good thing, although I wish they were somewhere closer than Sellersville.

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[POSTPONED: December 22, 2020] KT Tunstall / Dina Hall [rescheduled from May 5th and June 28th]

index

It seemed like the third time would be the charm for this show at Sellersville.  Especially pushing it all the way back to December.

Well, KT Tunstall is going to play this venue some day.  And maybe by then I’ll be ready to see her.

Interestingly, she is playing two other venues locally and each one has a different opening act, so perhaps your choice of venue wil depend on who is opening.

I had forgotten about KT Tunstall. I had her first record and then didn’t realize that she had had a couple of other (big) hits since “Suddenly I See.”

I wasn’t going to go to this, but her name has been popping up all over the place.  And the more I see her listed, the more I’ve thought about going.  This was definitely a maybe since so many other shows are cancelled anyhow.  She’s also touring with Hall and Oates this summer and she seems to be doing a lot of local shows as a headliner. All of this repetition has me thinking I might go see her. But mostly I’m intrigued by how much her name is going to show up in these posts soon.

Dina Hall is a folksinger from Bethlehem–originally from Sayreville NJ. When she’s with her full band she rocks out a bit more. I’m not sure if this was a solo or a band show.

seller

 

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[POSTPONED: August 5, 2020] Stick Men [moved to April 1, 2021]

indexBack in June, as larger shows were getting postponed into August and September, I held out hope that August might allow for some smaller shows like this one.

I had never heard of Stick Men until after a King Crimson show when I heard some fans talking about how amazing Stick Men are.

The band is a trio of Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter.  Levin and Mastelotto play in Crimson (stick and drums respectively) and Markus Reuter plays his eight string touch guitar covering much more ground than a guitar or a bass.  Mastelotto’s drumming encompasses not just the acoustic kit, but a unique electronic setup too, allowing him to add loops, samples, percussion, and more.

To be able to see these musicians up close (without all the distractions of the amazement of a King Crimson concert) would be so cool.  Stick Men play once in awhile, although the last few times they’ve been around I couldn’t make it.

Rescheduled to April is a good thing, although I wish they were somewhere closer than Sellersville.

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[POSTPONED: June 22, 2020] King Crimson / The Zappa Band [moved to  2021]

indexI have seen King Crimson four times and have been blown away by each show.  Even hearing many of the same songs doesn’t dampen my enjoyment since the songs are so amazing to see live.

Given the fickleness of Robert Fripp, it’s always possible that the band will break up at any moment.  Given that, I will see them every time they come close, and the fact that they were coming to new Brunswick (super close!) was like a personal invitation.

Normally there is no opening act.   I don’t know if the addition of an opening act meant less King Crimson time.  But the opening act was The Zappa Band.

I’ve been a big fan of Zappa’s work for years, although I never saw him live.  I’ve considered going to the various posthumous shows, but they all seem kind of cheesy.  The Dweezil show is supposed to be okay, but I feel like I;d have to have a real lull in shows to go out to see him.

However, having them open for a show that I was already going to was the best of all worlds.  Especially given the current lineup:

The Zappa Band’s lineup features Zappa alumni Ray White (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Keneally (guitar, keys, vocals), Scott Thunes (bassist) and Robert Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals).  I mean, that’s practically the Zappa band without Zappa right there.  It seems like Dweezil is not even part of this show, which is interesting.

I didn’t know if the end of June would be a safe time to see a show, and clearly neither did KC or State Theatre, as this show was postponed in early April.

King Crimson, originally scheduled for June 22, has been postponed. We have been closely following the developing news on COVID-19 and the current response recommendations from our Federal, State, and Local officials. The health and well-being of our guests, artists, and staff are our top priority. Ticket holders will be contacted as soon as we have a new date. Current tickets will be valid for the rescheduled date, once announced, and if you are unable to make the new date, we will discuss alternate arrangements. Due to the high volume of changed or cancelled performances, we ask that you please wait for State Theatre to contact you in regard to your tickets.

I hope when the show is rescheduled, that The Zappa Band opens.  That sounds like a blast.

 

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[ATTENDED: February 7, 2020] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples on New Year’s Eve eve at a Phish after party.  The show was great with them playing their new 30 minute song “One Step Behind” as well as a few others.  For that show, their original bassist Derek Spaldo was in town (after this Philly show I talked to Tom Malach and he told me that Spaldo lives in Chicago and tours with them when he can–sometimes they are a six-piece band).  That show was great.  It was the second time I’d seen them playing a short set and I really wanted to catch them as a headliner. So I was pretty excited to see that they’d be playing Boot & Saddle (even if I’d only seen them a month ago I wanted to check them out again).

When I arrived the place was pretty empty, but by the time Garcia Peoples went on, it had filled in nicely.  I was intrigued by the diversity of ages in the crowd–a lot of old Dead-heads and a few younger frat boy types as well as a lot of (drunk?) women.  I am also pretty certain that Chris Forsyth was in the audience.

The crowd was responsive and really appreciative whenever the guys played some impressive soloing (which was often).

I was intrigued to see that Spaldo was not with them this time but bassist Andy Cush was.  Cush played with them when I first saw them.  This means that there are two guys who know the bass parts to their songs. Pretty cool. (more…)

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