King Crimson is on the road appearing on The Power To Believe Tour. The band played the first of two nights at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia, on Monday, March 3, 2003. Unfortunately with guitarist Adrian Belew under the weather, Robert Fripp made a brief appearance on stage to announce a change in the program.
Fripp introduced the evening as a ProjeKct Three performance with Trey Gunn on touch guitar and Pat Mastelotto on drums. The group reduced to a power trio kicked out the jams on stage. However, no new material from King Crimson's latest effort, The Power To Believe, was performed.
Fripp began the evening alone on stage with "Soundscape - Tuning In The Air". Waves of music created an audio atmosphere with the symphonic measure expanding in intensity. The suite of sound bellowed like orchestral sirens. Gunn and Mastelotto joined Fripp to add a rich and fuller sound to the piece.
"Facts Solo" featured an interesting cornucopia of sound effects. Chimes, spacesounds, and electric junglebirds segued into ethno-rhythms with Gunn laying down a snaking bassline. The ever-morphing sound had an Indian-influenced undercurrent with bells and tabla. Fripp's coda guitar solo was augmented through his stage rig.
Fripps' humming guitar introduced "Super Slow". During the song, Gunn set up a bass guitar on a stand to lay flat. He played bass notes on it resembling a typing motion with his finger tips. Gunn alternated between bass guitars and played notes on both simultaneously. A segue in the music presented the rhythm section pounding out a strong drum beat and a funky bass line before the coda.
Returning for the encore, a female called out, "Thank you". The trio stopped after a false start with Gunn commenting, "I need more Robert. I can't hear Robert". Fripp said, "We'll take that one more time". ProjeKct Three performed a singular encore of "Vrooom". Fripp played a melodic guitar part, and Gunn added outstanding bass phrasing. The tempo shifted from an industrial passage to Fripp's guitar melody.
The threesome remained on stage and sat on stools. Fripp announced, "This is a rare opportunity", for audience members to ask questions. Audience queries covered a wide range of topics from practice sessions, guitar craft courses, and stage outfits. Fripp took a little time to express a humorous quip about his perceived shy stage persona.
In response to a request, Fripp played a passage of "Fracture" with kneeslapping from Mastelotto. Afterwhich he commented, "I want more money for more". Fripp shared insights into his youth and how he chose to become a musician. His first experience with a guitar was during the 1954 Christmas season.
Gunn revealed, "You realize this was mostly improvised". The unanticipated ProjeKct Three performance was an unexpected musical pleasure for all of the King Crimson fans present. Hands were shooting up all over the intimate venue to interact with the band.
When asked about their favorite musicians, Gunn answered he was enjoying Willie Nelson's 1961 demo recordings and Mastelotto replied, "John Lennon". Fripp shared a few vignettes. One brief remark related Tony Levin's search for a rubber bass to replace the one he had lost in a fire.
Dan Orza flew in from Norman, Oklahoma, to attend the concert and was pleasantly elated to witness a rare ProjeKct Three live performance. "It was surprising to me to hear them do a King Crimson encore and covers", stated Orza. "The older Robert gets the more user-friendly he gets. He was very generous tonight with the questions", added Orza.
Alexandria setlist: Soundscape - Tuning In The Air * Level 5 - C Power - Thrakking * Virtuous Power * Facts Solo * Lite * Sustaynz * Super Slow * Thrush * Encore: Vrooom * Q & A session
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An impromptu improvisation by ProjeKct Three
by Timothy Tilghman