.Music is our Friend: Live in Washington & Albany, 2021 by King Crimson

Release date: November 19, 2021
Label: DGM

Hi! I’m Robert Fripp on behalf of King Crimson. We are totally psyched to be at work and playing live for you once again. The world is different, but music remains hope for us all. So let’s strap on and rock out uncontrollable, fireballs of rock fury!” The sound of Fripp’s message before the show starts at the venue in The Anthem in Washington, D.C. gives a sense of hope, freedom, and playing live again in the middle of these tricky times during the pandemic.

That and this incredible 2-CD set consists of the two live recordings Crimson did last year. One at the concert hall at The Anthem, and the other at the performing arts venue, The Egg in Albany, NY on August 22nd, 2021 and September 11th. Now, the Egg performance has only four tracks on the second disc, but both discs contains excerpts from the Albany recording.

These live performances took place last year for the USA live dates crimson did for the Music is our Friend tour. They did 28 gigs here in the States back in 2021. It was originally supposed to be scheduled for 2020, but it was postponed due to the rise of COVID-19 and the pandemic whilst everything came to a screeching halt back in March of that year.

The tour started back in July in Florida as the current status of COVID started to emerge as the band were in this tour bus bubble. After the scheduling difficulty and a two week break the Crimson team had, they went back on the road with opening bands, The Zappa Band, and the California Guitar Trio.

Listening to the Washington performance is like a front-row seat watching the seven-headed beast of Crimson sending out their probable last gig in the states. And I can imagine it was a night that the audience will never forget.

From the three-headed drum beasts of ‘The Hell Hounds of Krim’ in the minds of Stacey, Mastelotto, and Harrison, they duel it out as if they were boxers in a boxing match. You can imagine themselves as Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson duking it out on the drums with all of their electrical outlets.

Between the African tribes and insane percussion work they bring to the venue, chaos finally occurs at The Anthem with ‘Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One,’ ‘Red’, ‘Pictures of a City’, and the 12-minute improvisational finale, ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’. Crimson have enough ammunition to raise more hell like there’s no tomorrow. But Tony gets the crowd’s attention when he plays some beautiful sun rising arrangements for ‘Tony Cadenza Deals It Slitheryacious-To-The-Max’ and ‘Tony Cadenza serves it Piping Hot’.

Levin plays his compositions as if he’s walking on a dangerous tightrope. He is no fluke when it comes to his Bass Guitar and his Chapman stick. He’s been around the Crimson family since 1981.

But once the howling wolves cry at the moon for ‘Level Five’, the monster has been unleashed for Jakszyk and Fripp to unleash the cage by revealing this blood-thirsty monster, eating a shit load of human flesh with its Mahavishnu Orchestra vibration, as it terrorizes the little Catholic town like crazy! You gotta love Mel’s nod to ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ on the second disc as he continues more of the structures from the third track.

He plays nonstop as if the band weigh-in his support to bring it all home with roaring applause from the audience. ‘Radical Action II’ on the other hand, sounds like they’re bringing it home with some nod between the Lizard and Red-era.

Jakko lets it all out. Not on his guitar textures, but his vocal arrangements. From the pandemonium craziness throughout ‘One More Red Nightmare’, the aftermath of a post-apocalyptic nightmare on ‘Epitaph’, and the beat poetic styles of Allen Ginsberg with a crazy Bebop lyrical structure for ‘Indiscipline’, Jakko gives a lot of strength and wisdom throughout the eight-headed beast.

Say what you want about him, but he bring the venues down as if he and Fripp have the Mjölnir to bring massive amounts of thunder to those two venues. The only thing I wished was that the lush turned powerhouse sound of ‘Starless’ would’ve been the closer after ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’. That would’ve been the perfect send-off.

When you listen to the finale track that brings it home on the original Red album, you can imagine that there wasn’t a single dry eye in the Anthem. While this may be the last goodbye from King Crimson, despite the various line-up changes from 1969 to 2021, Fripp has been the sole member for nearly 53 years.

He has kept the Crimson train going with no stop sign waiting for him. I can imagine that it might be sad and hard for him to call it a day, but what a ride this band has embarked on.

Just like Rush riding off into the sunset with their last tour of R40 in 2015, the official bootleg live release of the double live album Music is our Friend, sees Robert and the band driving in their ’58 Corvettes, moving on to greener pastures. The music will continue to inspire the next generation for young fans and musicians to discover the band’s legacy and keep the fires burning brighter than ever.

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