King Crimson
Live at the Orpheum


3.5
great

Review

by Aaron W. STAFF
January 26th, 2015 | 24 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Back to basics in 2015.

You know, at this point a King Crimson live album is more of a punchline than another typical release. Yes, some bands do go out of their way to supply hardcore fans with a massive amount of recordings, but how much is too much" With King Crimson, there are 160+ live recordings, fifteen of those being actual legitimate live albums available to the public and not just exclusive to DGM Live – the band’s website – as digital-only releases. Getting that out of the way, one of the main fifteen live albums by the renowned group is ”Live at the Orpheum”, a brand-new recording from the recent reunion tour of the States. Clocking in at a meager forty minutes, ”Orpheum” leaves much to the expectations of the listener hoping for something more. At such a short length, ”Orpheum” barely even covers the repertoire of the band’s touring material, featuring only six tunes and the obligatory “walk-on”; this time around, the “run-off” recording from the end of 1971’s ”Islands” – here it’s known as ”Monk Morph Chamber Music”. This recording, as with other previous “walk-ons”, was used to introduce the band and to set their live show in motion.

There’s a distinct lack of improvisation this time around, with the nucleus of the live show being straightforward renditions of classic tracks. This could be a relieving idea to some, but the loss of the band’s most notorious trait really affects the band as a whole. The only track of its kind, ”Banshee Legs Bell Hassle” is a short but effective improvisation by the newly-christened “drum trio” (consisting of Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin and Pat Mastelotto). Mel Collins, Robert Fripp and Tony Levin supplement the material played on the album greatly, most notably Collins, who adds a “windy” touch to the oft-maligned ”ConstruKction of Light”, now re-tooled to suit the new Crimson. Levin and Fripp do their part to make the best of their work, the former adding his soaring backing vocals as well providing great, fluid bass work to compliment the powerful other half of the rhythm section. On the other hand, Fripp, in the usual nature of being the Robert Fripp, is technical, but has an edge to his playing that once seemed to be lost with not only his advancing age, but the extremely monotonous projects (or “ProjeKcts”) from the 1990s and 2000s. He is quoted saying this is the first incarnation of King Crimson he has fully enjoyed being with, and his performance on this album supports that statement. Never before has Fripp sounded livelier. As for newcomer, and former “Schizoid Band” front man Jakko Jakszyk, he still has some work to do. He excels at getting his parts down to Crimson standard, but in vocal terms, he lacks in many departments. Ranging from the “power” of his voice, to his delivery, it all needs improving on. ”Starless” for example, benefitted from the extra guitarist, but with Jakszyk, the delivery of the vocal wasn’t up to par – an astounding let-down to say the least. In parts where others soared, he floundered – not to say he does a bad job overall. In tracks such as ”The Letters”, he promptly succeeds at equaling (or even surpassing) Boz Burrell’s original performance from ”Islands”, but just can’t come close to stuff like ”One More Red Nightmare”. To put it straight, he is desperately lacking in the vocal department.

Going back to the “drum trio”, they offer a cacophony of noise, playing three separate drum parts at once (or at a time, depending on the song being played). Problem is, it only serves as a reminder of who was once behind the kit – and he-who-shall-not-be-named. The trio does a stellar job, but lack focus as a group in holding the band’s sound together. Overall, this new incarnation of King Crimson as a whole does a relatively fine job, but requires more time to gel – something that will be put to the test whenever they tour the United Kingdom this year. Something that needs to be changed for the better is the fact that King Crimson was perhaps “playing it safe”, going for a more leisure pace (a very, very un-Crimson-like thing to do, especially live).

If King Crimson can shake off the “play-it-safe” mentality with some tunes (the ”Red” songs in particular), the band will greatly benefit as a result, without a doubt in my mind. This incarnation needs time to develop in order to become a far greater, functioning band. It seems as Robert Fripp is more patient this time around, and is willing to let this band develop on its own, unlike in previous incarnations where he seemingly forced band members to develop at the pace he wanted (and this is exactly how the ”Lizard” incarnation broke down, and how its successor did when Fripp attempted to get the band to play an prototypical version of ”Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part One)” instead of openly listening to fellow bandmates’ suggestions on new compositions). Fripp in his advancing age is truly enjoying playing in King Crimson for the first time in what seems like ages – literally.



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user ratings (19)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks to JohnnyontheSpot for feedback beforehand, it's appreciated.



"Starless": https://soundcloud.com/analog414/king-crimson-starless-2014-live



(couldn't find any audio from this album, so here's some random bootleg recording - better than the one on here)

swagb0b
January 25th 2015


233 Comments


ghost neg

Friday13th
January 25th 2015


6927 Comments


Heard this was terrible from the prog review guy on youtube. Sounds good from the snippet.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks goj, pce and lov from the fam



@Friday Darren Lock? From what I've heard from him, he sounded more disappointed than anything.

Friday13th
January 25th 2015


6927 Comments


Yeah him, he gave it a one red nightmare out of five or something like that :p His main gripe was the drums
sounding washy and it overall lacking energy. Kinda agree with that Starless snippet towards the end.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, this album falsely represents the band at this time. The second show at The Egg was a much better

show, and that was earlier in the tour.



Funny, for my second year on the site I review a King Crimson album. First review - Red. Mere coincidence?

Tunaboy45
January 26th 2015


16750 Comments


Darren knows best

menawati
January 26th 2015


16587 Comments


not heard, doesn't sound like its worth bothering from your review frip

Tunaboy45
January 26th 2015


16750 Comments


Pos'd by the way

BMDrummer
January 26th 2015


14608 Comments


it arrived

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yes it did

MrSirLordGentleman
January 26th 2015


12520 Comments


Crimson's setlists are so boring

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This tour had a rousing setlist, it's really just this in particular.



Would you rather have another album that has Dinosaur and Sleepless again?

MrSirLordGentleman
January 26th 2015


12520 Comments


One day any of Crimson's classic albums will be played live, entirely

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

they're not Yes

MrSirLordGentleman
January 26th 2015


12520 Comments


Yes is better live :v

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

that's not even funny

Jethro42
January 26th 2015


15906 Comments


Is this a portion of a show or the entire thing?

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2015


18785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The former

Jethro42
January 26th 2015


15906 Comments


Original and unexpected setlist... But I guess they included too often Larks Tongues in Aspic part II, Schizoid Man, Red or Talking Drum in the past...
Good review!



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