CLEARWATER — Following months of pandemic lockdowns, Robert Fripp is ready to hit the road and preside over King Crimson. The fabled progressive rock outfit will kick off its U.S. tour right here in the Tampa Bay area with a performance Thursday, July 22, 7:30 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.
California Guitar Trio will open the show. Tickets start at $53.25. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com. This show was originally scheduled for June 2020 but was rescheduled due to the pandemic. Tickets will be honored on the new date. Ticketholders are asked to note that the performance time has also changed, from 8 to 7:30 p.m.
The “Music Is Our Friend North American Tour” marks the seventh year that the band has toured since returning to performing live in 2014, a run only interrupted by the lockdown in 2020. In that time, the audience has been reinvented, as much as the band itself, something Fripp noted after the band’s performance in Pompeii, Italy’s famous amphitheater.
“In Pompeii, a large percentage of the audience was young couples,” Fripp said in a press release promoting the tour. “KC moved into the mainstream in Italy. I walked onstage knowing that this band's position in the world has changed level.”
The band’s shows regularly include material from 12 of their 13 studio albums, including many songs from their seminal 1969 album “In the Court of the Crimson King,” described by Pete Townshend as an “uncanny masterpiece.” The 7-piece lineup plays many historic pieces, which Crimson has never previously played live, as well as new arrangements of Crimson classics: “The music is new whenever it was written.” There are also new instrumentals and songs, as well as compositions by the three drummers, Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison and Jeremy Stacey, which are a regular highlight. A unique show, where seven of the best musicians in the world play music without distraction or adornment.
Fripp has kept busy during the lockdown producing “Toyah & Robert’s Sunday Lunch,” a series of virtual mini concerts he performs with his wife Toyah Willcox. Each Sunday, the couple shares their renditions of songs by a wide range of music artists such as Nirvana, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Prodigy, Black Sabbath, and Eurythmics.
Though best known for his work in King Crimson, Fripp also has contributed to numerous albums by players as diverse as Brian Eno, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, Talking Heads, Daryl Hall, The Roches, Peter Hammill, Keith Tippett, David Sylvian, The Orb, and The Grid. “Exposure,” his 1979 solo album, was described as “the Sergeant Pepper of avant punk.” He has appeared twice in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time poll, although Fripp claims these are likely to have been mistakes by the typesetter.
“The Crimson Beast is in ‘go! Mode,’” Fripp said, celebrating the upcoming tour. “The Crimson Beast of Terror has woken from its enforced slumbering and is venturing out to stomp flat the psyches of innocents not yet experienced in the hammering onslaught of King Crimson’s uncompromising pounding — bish! bish! bish! — before turning on a beat to jellify hearts with gut-wrenching passion and soul-squeezing epic unfoldings to remind us that we are all mere subjects in the unfolding drama of the universe’s unfathomable mysteries while simultaneously rocking out and having a great time bopping about with Tony and Bobby and Gavin and Jakko and Mel and Pat and Jezza, too.”
In addition to Fripp, King Crimson members include Tony Levin, Jakko Jakszyk, Mel Collins, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey.
Levin has been a member of King Crimson since 1981. Internationally renowned and constantly in-demand for his distinctive bass work, he also tours with Peter Gabriel with whom he has worked since 1977. He has appeared on albums by Paul Simon, John Lennon, David Bowie and countless others and recently formed his own band, Stick Men, alongside Mastelotto.
Jakszyk was a member of Level 42, before working with Collins as part of ex-KC alumni group, 21st Century Schizoid Band, between 2002 and 2004. His 2006 solo album, “The Bruised Romantic Glee Club,” was his first recorded collaboration with Fripp, followed by “A Scarcity of Miracles” in 2011. An acclaimed producer in his own right, Jakszyk has recently mixed Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson’s UK Top 20 album, “Homo Erraticus.”
Collins was previously a member of King Crimson from 1970 to 1972, appearing on “In the Wake of Poseidon” (1970), “Lizard” (1970), “Islands” (1971), “Earthbound” (1972) as well as a guest appearance on “Red” (1974), the final King Crimson album of the 1970s. He subsequently worked with The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Dire Straits, Eric Clapton and many others, before returning to King Crimson in 2014.
Harrison joined King Crimson in 2007, playing a series of dates in the United States the following year. A respected author and tutor, he has also recorded three albums with The Pineapple Thief, though Harrison is probably best-known for his work with Porcupine Tree. Modern Drummer magazine placed him in their Top 50 Drummers of All Time.
Mastelotto joined King Crimson in 1994 after working with Fripp and David Sylvian. A member of the hugely successful American 1980s group and MTV favorites Mr. Mister, he is at home in both experimental music working with KTU as well as pop and rock appearing on albums by the Rembrandts, Hall and Oates and XTC.
Stacey is a British drummer. His early work included the 1990s band the Lemon Trees with twin brother Paul Stacey on guitars, Guy Chambers and others, as well as Denzil. He has also played with Sheryl Crow, the Finn Brothers, Nick Harper, Noel Gallagher and many more. On March 7, 2016, it was announced that he would be taking the place of Bill Rieflin as the center drummer on the 2016 King Crimson European tour, a position he retained even after Rieflin’s all too brief return to the band as a keyboard player.
The California Guitar Trio will be appearing as a special guest for the first leg of the tour, including the show at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Since 1991, the group has enthralled listeners with a singular sound that fearlessly crisscrosses genres. The trio’s questing spirit drives it to explore the intersections between rock, jazz, classical, and world music. It even throws in the occasional surf or spaghetti Western tune for good measure.
Comprised of Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards, the group has established a unique, personal connection with audiences. In addition to dazzling musicianship and interplay, CGT shows are full of captivating stories and humor that enable concertgoers to feel like they’re part of the music, not just spectators. In fact, the group’s goal is to transcend their instruments, so people focus on the music first, and its considerable technical prowess a distant second.