King Crimson Live In Scottsdale

by Kevin Wierzbicki

King Crimson - Aug. 7, 2021 - Talking Stick Resort Grand Ballroom, Scottsdale AZ

It was a wonderful evening of progressive rock music as the much-revered King Crimson came to Arizona for a show in metropolitan Phoenix during their Music is Our Friend tour. As an added treat, the California Guitar Trio opened the concert with a 45-minute set. With two of the members playing amplified acoustic guitars and one playing the Stick, the CGT was able to create effects that went way beyond what you would expect, enabling them to rock out on half a dozen instrumentals bookended by the title cut from their Andromeda album and an impressive cover of Pink Floyd's "Echoes."

King Crimson has an unusual lineup that includes three drummers so most of their set was highly percussive. Also unusual is the way the drummers are set up; they are out front while the rest of the band is behind them, a reverse of the traditional set up. And in a nod to the importance of the drummers (Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison and Jeremy Stacey) the show began with a five minute drums instrumental called "Drumzilla." The song indeed thundered as if Godzilla were behind the kit; that scenario would play out multiple times throughout the show in between displays of intricate finesse from the three.

Crimson lead singer and guitarist Jakko Jaksyzk infused new life into the oldie "Pictures of a City" from the 1970 In the Wake of Poseidon album, a cut supposedly inspired by the band's first visit to New York City, no doubt a bit of a shocking experience for them. Moving to a funky strut with a bit of a "spy" flavor, the song does indeed conjure images of what might go on in dark alleys and other places that are the purview of sketchy characters. Performed early in the set was "The Court of the Crimson King," the longtime favorite that was originally sung by the late Greg Lake.

Other highlights of the show included the gentle, sadness-infused "Islands," "Indiscipline" from the Discipline album (this year celebrating its 40th anniversary), a Tony Levin solo on the electric upright bass and a luxuriant take on another oldie, 1974's "Starless," a cut penned by early Crimson drummer Bill Bruford and the late John Wetton where the stage lighting progressively dimmed to mimic a dark, starless night. The show concluded with a raucous take on "21st Century Schizoid Man." Adding keyboards and sax throughout the show was Mel Collins, drummer Stacey also played keys, and King Crimson founding member and all-around musical genius Robert Fripp played keys and incredible guitar solos, all while seated. The show featured no stage patter and while photography of any sort was prohibited the band graciously stayed on stage for a few minutes and allowed fans to take photos and videos after the music was over.

King Crimson remains on tour in the US through mid-September. Find a complete list of tour dates here.

The Scottsdale King Crimson show was promoted by Danny Zelisko Presents. Other upcoming DZP shows in Arizona include:

Aug. 31 - Alan Parsons Live Project - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Sept. 8 and 9 - Styx - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Sept. 14 - Jackson Browne - Findlay Toyota Center, Prescott
Sept. 15 - Jackson Browne - Tucson Music Hall, Tucson
Sept. 17 and 18 - Jackson Browne - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Sept. 19 - The Monkees (farewell tour) - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Oct. 8 and 9 - Jim Gaffigan - Celebrity Theatre
Oct. 17 - Gladys Knight - Celebrity Theatre
Oct. 19 - Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Oct. 25 - Dead & Co. - Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix
Oct. 28 - Dream Theater - Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
Nov. 9 - Rick Wakeman - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix

Tickets for DZP shows are here.

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