We sent one of our honorary prog writers MIKE MILLS of Toehider along to check out The Crimson Projekct in Melbourne. Here’s his take on the progressive rock masters:
One of the great things about progressive rock (and all that tag has come to encompass), is that it is cross-generational. From young teens to grandfathers, The Hi Fi was packed with all and in between.
Tonight was all about the music. From the moment Markus Reuter walked onstage, starting the set with experimental noisescapes, the crowd knew what they were in for.
Drummers Pat Mastelotto and Tobias Ralph then took the stage for a duel drum solo. Yes, a second song duel drum solo. The crowd now definitely knew what they were in for.
Bassist/Stickist Tony Levin came onstage taking photos of the crowd with a DSLR camera, perhaps as some sort of payback for the few scattered in the audience with their phones up in the air. He was even taking photos of the band, which now included stage left bassist Julie Slick.
The crowd erupted when Adrian Belew took to the stage, completing the double-trio configuration. Launching into “Dinosaur”, the sound of the band was unmistakable – chorusy (but somehow not 80s-cheesy-chorusy) crisp guitars, super-tight percussive unison between the two drummers, and of course the liquidy stick sounds courtesy of Levin.
Continuing with ‘Frame by Frame’, Belew and I shared a moment. As I was unapologetically singing along, he looked over at me and smiled, before pedal tap dancing his way into the solo. Mind-Belewing!
The Crimson ProjeKCt then split in half, and the Adrian Belew trio, consisting of Belew, drummer Ralph, and bassist Slick. Looping phrases, and getting legitimately excited when he nailed it, I realized that Belew was having “moments” with everyone else in the crowd too. And then it really hit me how much of an amazing communicator he is, and how much this kind of communication would be completely lost in a bigger venue. The whole band were able to have “moments” with the crowd both collectively, and as individuals.
Another switch, and the “Stick Men” trio were onstage (Levin/Reuter/Mastelotto). This was an instrumentally driven, largely improvisational set, and just when they had taken the crowd as far from reality as musically possible, it was time again for the 2 trios to combine, treating the audience with some “hits” – including “Three of a Perfect Pair”, which given the double-trio combination, this actually makes sense.
More switching around followed, at one point a Belew/Levin duo, and then it occurred to me – there isn’t a light show! The stage was obviously very well lit, but there was no flashing lights, no smoke, lasers, elaborate backdrops. Tonight was really all about the music.
Before bringing the whole crowd to a standstill with the beautiful “One Time”, the Crimson ProjeKCt took it home with a duelling drum solo in “Indiscipline”, before asking the crowd if there were “any requests?” (‘Elephant Talk’ and ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’)
Yes indeed, tonight was all about the music (did I already say that?) Ok, so it’s not officially “King Crimson”. Who gives a Fripp? This was easily just as good.