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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 83 - 07/13/03

King Crimson
The Power To Believe Tour Book
Discipline Global Mobile

Guess what, last month King Crimson visited Norway for the first time ever! I was quite exited about it. I discovered the band in my teens (some full moons ago) and earlier this year they released the best album in about 30 years, I believe (still got the power!). Well, at least about 3/4 of the album. The album is called The Power To Believe and of course it had to be supported by The Power To Believe tour. It started in North America and Japan during spring, and the European leg will finish later this moonth. The sales booth along the bandwagon offered the usual T-shirts, caps, CDs etc. and also The Power To Believe Tour Book. The latter is not a book, rather an alternative tour programme consisting of a 20-page booklet and an audio CD in a DVD cover. Very neat! The T-shirts were bloody expensive, about the same cost as two mid-priced CDs. I bought The Tour Book before the concert started and considered to buy a T-shirt afterwards, if the evening turned out to be memorable enough.

The CD of The Book includes parts of an entertaining press conference in the US with the entire band at the start of this year and excerpts from a Japanese television interview with Robert Fripp. A demo version of the song "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" sounds quite similar to the one on the new album and even more fresh. I am about the only person I know of who enjoys this partly heavy song, partly pop'ier with some clever wordplay. There are six more musical tracks on the CD not available anywhere else, as far as I know. At the press conference the band - mainly Fripp and Adrian Belew - answered questions about appearing on the Howard Stern show, touring and playing with Tool recently and with the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in 1969 etc. It proves there are lots of humour within the band. Believe it (if you have the power) or not! The tv interview is far more serious, Fripp shares some philosophy of life as an experienced professional musician and a human being. The song "Message 22" is not Crimson at the most inspired, dominated by monotonous vocoder vocals. "Emerald Banter" is only a few seconds of an unsuccessful start of an instrumental, it seems, whereas "Superslow" alone makes The Book worth checking out. It's a, you know, slow instrumental with some groovy bass grooves cut by barbed wire guitars. Apart from the somewhat unstructured/unfinished ending, it might have fit nicely on the new album. The remaining three tracks are instrumental soundscapes by Mr. Fripp. A moody ending of the CD. And the booklet is a colourful small sized version of a tour programme.

Guess I ought to mention the concert that accompanied The Tour Book, too. Both gigs in Norway were in halls built for classical music. I attended the second one, in Oslo. During the aforementioned press conference Fripp stated that the Crimson music is a preponderantly male thing. The audience this evening proved he was right. The hall is probably not suited for amplified music and the sound didn't give justice to the quartet's precise and intricate interplay at first. When the sound improved, we witnessed a full-blown exquisite beyond-rock-orchestra. The spotlights centred on vocalist Adrian Belew who played melody lines on his guitar while his vocals went in quite different directions. Trey Gunn was the breathtaking virtuoso playing both bass and guitar simultaneously, though not only to impress, keeping the music together on his 10-string Warr guitar. Drummer Pat Mastelotto was as steady as can be, though I still missed the characteristic beats of Bill Bruford. Meanwhile legendary Robert Fripp was lurking in the shadow of the stage during the entire concert. He took care of the main guitar duties, after all, and put the King Crimson stamp on the music. Though occasionally I got a feeling that three American impressive stadium rockers versus one eccentric and impressive English guitarist didn't quite match. Also Adrian Belew has never been my favourite singer and I think he was allowed to occupy the centre stage too much. They played the better part of the The Power To Believe album, probably a few from its predecessor The ConstruKction Of Light, a couple from the 80s, "Elephant Talk" among them, and finally - as the last encore - "Red" the oldest and only classic number from the 70s. The only real surprise of the evening started before we found our seats. The lights in the hall were still on while the stage was pretty dark. Some droning sounds from the speakers were hardly audible. One man was standing on the stage with a guitar. We commented on these bands who have to keep their special guitar roadie going, tuning until the very last minute. Instead it was Robert Fripp who had an early start. His soundscapes grew gradually louder until the lights faded and the others entered the stage a good 15-20 minutes later. All in all the concert proved King Crimson still is a vital and contemporary touring force. Anyway, I didn't buy any T-shirt.

At the moment The Book is only available on the tour, but who knows what happens afterwards (mid July). By then you might check out the postal order sevice from Discipline Global Mobile and there is also the King Crimson home page. But as Robert Fripp states in the booklet: Better, much better, to seek for any answer within the music.

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You may also want to check out our King Crimson articles/reviews: ConstruKction of Light, In The Court Of The Crimson King, Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind, Red.

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