These show notes are written by long-standing Frippertronics expert and unofficial archivist, Allan Okada, whose help in the restoration of this concert has been invaluable. This historic recording documents an extremely rare and classic performance of a mysterious collaborative tour from two of the most creative and fascinating figures in rock. It is one of the most rewarding live recordings this writer has ever heard. For any fan of ‘No Pussyfooting’ or ‘Evening Star’, this live recording is of epic significance and thanks to the efforts of Alex Mundy, is now also comparable in audio quality, by synchronizing the most complete and best (by a mile) available live bootleg recording with Eno's stage tapes recently discovered.
What a dynamite gig this is - full of twists and surprises. There are times when both band and audience combine to make something special that goes beyond the night merely being a “good show.” This is one such occasion and thankfully for us recording engineer George Chkiantz was on hand with the mobile recording studio to capture it all for posterity.
The debut show for Mel, Boz, RF and Ian and what a fantastic atmosphere this soundboard recording has! The band are incredibly animated, clearly delighted to be away from their basement rehearsal room and obviously enjoying the liberation of being onstage. The shouts of encouragement and approval being exchanged – often in mid-song – give this recording an astonishing intimacy. Highlights include Fripp’s razor-sharp lines in the chorus section of Cirkus. There's an enchanting version of Lady of The Dancing Water with winsome backing vocals from Ian, trimmed with some rich baritone sax. And listen out for the running lines and slashing chords from LTIA pt1 as they make their debut during a radically different and experimental Sailor’s Tale.
With over a dozen dates under their belts Crimson were really hitting their stride, playing a high-energy show and unveiling new material such as The Night Watch, Lament and Fracture. In the latter’s case, it’s so new that the paint is still wet with a couple of sticky moments evident around the intro. However, the real surprise comes around the 6.30 mark in Fracture - with an unreleased section they later discarded, propelled by a mighty Wetton bass line that reappears on Red’s Starless. An improvised section prior to those familiar rasping chords adds a pinch of wonder to this tale of the unexpected, making it a glimpse of an alternative Fracture.
Arguably the greatest find in Mister Stormy’s trawl through the Crimson archives: uncovering a previously unheard set on the second night at the band’s stint at The Marquee. Having only had the fairly grim-sounding bootleg to go on, it’s wonderful to hear the band in pristine sound. Fascinating also to at last be able hear some of the vocal harmony ideas that they had in mind for Formentera Lady.
Whichever way you look at this is a significant show: the last time King Crimson played anywhere in mainland Europe. As such there’s a certain end-of-term aspect here - a rushing Dinosaur, a final flush in the cheeks of Red as it hits the finishing line. Humour plays its part as well when Belew quips to quell the photographers before a dazzling ConstruKction of Light.
“It’s been a bit of a strange evening” says Adrian Belew near the end of the show. What can he mean? Well, there are moments when things get shaky (Ade has a rather squelchy brown moment during Dinosaur) and there’s a slightly distracted quality to Crimson’s overall performance here, particularly through EleKtric. Yet a minute later The Power To Believe II sees them embarking on a sublime voyage that goes to bliss and back in a little over seven minutes; Fripp launches a solo that takes him clean out of city and off into inner space.
“Who would’ve ever thought that you’d hear the word ‘happy’ so many times in a King Crimson song” says a grinning Adrian Belew mid-way through what must be one of Crimso’s most playful of gigs. It’s clear from the off that the band are enjoying being back in what is known to be a very KC-friendly venue. Looking out at the crowd Belew exclaims “These are our people!” And he wasn’t the only one to be impressed that night. “Hooray! A most enjoyable show at Park West” wrote Robert Fripp in his diary. “A generous audience and, significantly, the area in front of the band was standing - this is a first at Park West in 23 years of playing here. We are used to looking out at tables, right up to the stage. This seems to be the best format for us: standing at the front, seating at the back, sides & above. A well-spirited performance from band & audience.”
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
No illusion here…don't miss this beauty
If you've even been confused about the two line-ups of Renaissance and how the story played out, you need to look no further than our band page here which has a forum thread called "A Renaissance confusion" written by Joolz which spells out this complete history in full detail. This first version of the band which produced the first two albums is considered somewhat illegitimate by some fans of the famous second line-up. In a way, the feel of the albums is bit like that of the Yes discography, where those first two Yes albums are often overlooked by casual fans. And like those first two Yes albums, the first two Renaissance albums stand on their own, delivering music that by all means should appeal to Haslam-era fans and symphonic fans in general.
This show was suggested as a must-have download by the Mighty Vargan and his pal Adam Aronson. When Alex “Stormy” Mundy heard the tape he agreed, declaring “This really is a great show. There is a great VROOOM, probably the best I have heard so far from this incarnation of Crim! Pat does a great job of playing all the drum parts on this piece. Thrush is very good, with a great solo from Robert!”