The Crimson Cruiser hurtled down the highway at top speed, deftly weaving and whizzing between slowly moving vehicles which presented but temporary obstacles. Downshift, and put the pedal to the metal. Floor that mofo!
Was it a rendezvous or a reunion with destiny? Who knows? What mattered was the fact that this was, short of less than a fortnight, an anniversary of a life-changing event. That date was 15 October 1973, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. For some, it was an eternity ago. For me and my friends, it was only yesterday. Tonight, it would be a different place altogether.
And why was that date so special? Well, it was the very first encounter, face to face, with a group of individuals who somehow became that good influence that your mothers always wished you had. I'm speaking about King Crimson.
In a nutshell, this band, led by the son of an estate agent from Bournemouth, Dorset, helped show me the way out of the endless miasma of lifeless packaging, of the unrelenting consumer pseudocultural world of modern-day planet Earth. But, how did that happen?
Simply think outside of the box, and don't blindly accept whatever was being shoved down your throat. Be creative, and search elsewhere, in an effort to create a better life, one worth passing on to future generations.
The sleek red sports car screeched to a halt, and the driver leapt from it like a stabbed rat. "Let me in!"
It was the venerable Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The door opened, and this spectral creature dashed in. For what reason did all this happen?
It was to share the space, once again, with those who dared to make a difference. I'm speaking about Robert Fripp, Mel Collins, Jakko Jakszyk, Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin, Gavin Harrison, & Bill Rieflin, modern-day sonic alchemists. It was the force of such and similar individuals who showed the way out of a boxed-in and limited world.
It was through King Crimson, forty years ago, that I escaped the world of commercial rock music and discovered new and improved spheres of existence. Grooving to Eric Dolphy, Igor Stravinsky, and Derek Bailey became a possibility. Special thanks to Messrs. Fripp, Collins, and Muir.
But I pause and ask myself, wasn't I supposed to be writing about the last 2 nights at the Orpheum Theatre? The two King Crimson concerts? Alas, I've digressed a wee bit too much, for my own sake.
The venue was splendid, a place where young vaudvillians tap-danced through the Roaring Twenties, and in later years, Ornette Coleman bridged the harmolodic gap between post-bop and the future. Lovingly restored, the Orpheum Theatre was a perfect place.
The band was uncharacteristically not punctual, but I believe that this was deliberate. Admonishments were delivered by Fripp & company to the audience. Simply put, it was get those bloody smartphones out of your hands, and enjoy the show. Many spectators shivered subsequently, wishing to grab their iphone like a junkie grabs his bent spoon. But the wise ushers kept our hands off our toys of distraction, and soon it was 'on with the show'.
The sound was great, and it looked like every seat gave the spectator a good view of the proceedings. Soon the percussionists were evoking the legacy of Jamie Muir, as they tapped away on their tiny bells, whistles, toys, and other tools of sonic scintillation. Larks Tongues In Aspic, Part One, roared into place, a full-blown spectacle which brought the crowd to their feet, the first of many ecstatic standing ovations.
Like an intricate Chinese puzzle, the musicians were part of a greater whole, and not all of us could grasp as to how it was put together. But, boy oh boy, was it fun trying to figure that out.
The concert continued with a blend of the old and new, with 'Pictures Of A City', 'The Letters', and 'Sailor's Tale' making an unexpected appearance, in between pieces new to my ears, like 'VROOOM' and many others which will now become more familiar to my worn and aged ears.
Quite a bit of material was performed, but unfortunately some works were omitted. I pine for the sounds of 'Lizard' onstage.
Although it might be easy to pore over every minute detail, there are but a finite number of seconds in the life of a being, and that time must be well spent.
The last 2 nights of King Crimson were such times indeed.