Review & Set List: King Crimson @ Teatro Arcimboldi, Milan, Italy

by Danny Gandolfi,

Flash is not a word that belongs in the King Crimson world with photography or filming being absolutely prohibited in the theatre, a request by Robert Fripp himself lest less than perfect recordings should invade YouTube no doubt. No flashing lights on stage at all, just the same spotlight set up, all the way through the show, except during Starless when the stage lights all of a sudden bathed the band in red. Finally even though every musician is a virtuoso in his own field, and experimentation is Robert’s creed, there is nothing flash about the way they express their music, rather it’s sophistication.

A very enthusiastic crowd, mainly male with a 30-60 age range, filled the Teatro Arcimboldi, a very modern and chic theatre in Milan to see this touring King Crimson band. Along with founder member, guitarist Robert Fripp, maverick genius, (who with Brian Eno, co-invented the ‘Frippertronic’ recording technique that radically advanced soundscape technology), there is Tony Levin on bass, Mel Collins on saxophone, Jakko Jakszyk on vox/guitar and Pat Mastelotto, Jeremy Stacey and Gavin Harrison on drums. That’s right; three drummers. Having such a rhythm section means the songs can build up methodically and intensely, and thanks to an evident understanding amongst all the band members, a solid, balanced interplay unfolds. The drummers make great viewing too such that they are placed, in a row, at the front of the stage.

Each song is like a trip to Everest where climbers leave base camp and climb to camp one, then back to base camp; then to camp two and then back to base camp, each at their own pace as if to acclimatize each time to the spiraling giddy heights the song demands by its end. Each musician may often have their own time frame yet the team/band has to reach the summit or song’s end together, and this is achieved by attention to detail, always listening to each other’s instrument and playing.

There are no solo’s as such though songs like Indiscipline, Fracture, Radical Action II or Starless has each musician participating intensely, sometimes radical in their commitment, but it’s always cohesion Robert Fripp wants. Only Gavin Harrison is allowed a drum solo, during 21st Century Schizoid Man, and even though he had been on stage over two and a half hours by then, it was absolutely staggering and mesmerizing in its technicality and execution.

After nearly three hours, the band, clearly pleased with themselves, received a standing ovation and it was thoroughly deserved, but the pleasure was really all ours finally having taken our place ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’.

Set list:

Set 1
  • Tuning Up (from The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson – Volume One – 1969–1974, 2004)
  • Hell Hounds of Krim (from The Elements of King Crimson, 2014)
  • Pictures of a City (from In the Wake of Poseidon, 1970)
  • Cirkus (from Lizard, 1970)
  • Fracture (from Starless and Bible Black, 1974)
  • The Letters (from Islands, 1971)
  • Sailor's Tale (from Islands, 1971)
  • Peace: An End (from In the Wake of Poseidon, 1970)
  • Radical Action (from Live in Toronto, 2016)
  • Meltdown (from Live in Toronto, 2016)
  • VROOOM (from THRAK, 1995)
  • The Court of the Crimson King (from In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)
  • Easy Money (from Larks' Tongue in Aspic, 1973)
  • Radical Action II (from Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind, 2016)
  • Level Five (from The Power to Believe, 2003)
Set 2
  • Fairy Dust (New)
  • Lizard ('The Battle of Glass Tears - Part i: Dawn Song') (from Lizard, 1970)
  • Indiscipline (from Discipline, 1981)
  • Epitaph (from In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)
  • The ConstruKction of Light (from The ConstruKction of Light, 2000)
  • Red (from Red, 1974)
  • A Scarcity of Miracles (from A Scarcity of Miracles, 2011)
  • The Talking Drum (from Larks' Tongue in Aspic, 1973)
  • Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two (from Larks' Tongue in Aspic, 1973)
  • Starless (from Red, 1974)
  • Banshee Legs Bell Hassle (from Live at the Orpheum, 2015)
  • 21st Century Schizoid Man (from In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)


MarcoP said...

You clearly were not at the Arcimboldi show since VROOOM and A Scarcity Of Miracles were not played.
Your setlist is also from some other show somewhere else.
Your review is useless.

Anonymous said...

Nice review, thank you.

>a request by Robert Fripp himself lest less than perfect recordings should invade YouTube no doubt.

Even if they were perfect recordings, I don't think the band would want them distributed freely on YouTube.

VVN Network said...

Marco P,

King Crimson played two nights in Milan. The first night, November 5, they did not play VROOOM or A Scarcity of Miracles. This is the night I am guessing you attended.

The review and set list is from their show on November 6.

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