King Crimson Newcastle Odeon 8th December 1972

King Crimson Newcastle Odeon 8th December 1972
kingcrimson My memory has been playing tricks with me again. I was convinced that I saw King Crimson in 1974, around the time of the “Red” album. But no, when I checked, I found that I was wrong again, as I often am these days. The concert that I saw took place on Friday 8th December 1972, when Robert Fripp and his mighty band played at Newcastle Odeon, not that long before the release of their fifth album “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”. This was the one and only time that I saw King Crimson in concert, and I went with my friend John. Support came from Lloyd Watson who I have blogged on separately, as John and I went to see him playing in a pub in Peterborough a few years ago. Lloyd won the solo category of the Melody Maker competition in 1972, appeared on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” and did two British tours, one supporting King Crimson and the other Roxy Music.
I went along to the Odeon that night with tunes from Crimson’s glorious first album running through my head, hoping to hear songs like “In the Court of the Crimson King” and “Epitaph”. Of course, the band didn’t play either of those tunes. I should have expected that, as the line-up of King Crimson had changed completely (apart from main man Robert Fripp) just prior to the tour. The line-up for the late 1972 UK tour was: leader Robert Fripp on guitar; John Wetton, fresh from Family and now coming to the fore on vocals and bass; Bill Bruford, who had just left Yes, on drums, David Cross on violin, flute, and keyboards; and Jamie Muir on percussion. Newcastle Odeon was a massive venue which was far from full for this gig, and John and I claimed some empty seats, which were much closer to the front than the cheap (60p! bargain :)) rear stalls tickets we had bought. The show was not what I expected. It was much more improvisation, and jazz, than rock. Larkstongues King Crimson started with a long instrumental track featuring Cross on violin and Muir on percussion which, based on setlists from the period, must have been “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part 1)”. Fripp remained seated throughout the performance, speaking to the audience only to announce the songs at one point. John Wetton handled the vocals on those songs that had any. But the guy who sticks in my memory from this concert is Jamie Muir. Muir came from a free improvisation background and “contributed an assortment of unusual sounds from a wide variety of percussion instruments, including chimes, bells, thumb piano, mbiras, a musical saw, shakers, rattles, found objects, and miscellaneous drums” (from Wikipedia). His performance that evening was just incredible. The only familiar song was “21st Century Schizoid Man”, which was was the final track and was loud, dark and very heavy. Overall I left the gig unsure as to what I had just witnessed. I found it pretty heavy going at the time. The set consisted of the entire “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic” album (which had not yet been released, so the material was all new and unfamiliar to the audience), closer “Schizoid Man”, and some free improvisation numbers. I’ve just googled and found a live recording on YouTube of a gig at Hull Technical College around the same time. I listened to some of it, and it sounds great! This concert is another one that seems much better on reflection than I probably realised at the time (if that makes any sense :)). And its also another concert which I would love to go back in time to, and experience all over again. Setlist from the Hull Technical College recording: Walk On… No Pussyfooting; Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part I); Book of Saturday; Robert Fripp announces the songs to be played; Improvisation: Vista Training College Under Spot Light; Exiles; Easy Money; Improvisation: Fallen Angel Hullabaloo; The Talking Drum; Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part II); 21st Century Schizoid Man. I am pretty sure that the Newcastle performance was a similar set. King Crimson are another band on my ever growing list of bands to see again (if, of course, Fripp ever decides to reform the band).

3 responses to this post.

  1. You lucky bastard! You got to see & hear King Crimson do 21st Century Schizoid Man back in ’72? I will forever be jealous, and wish I could Total Recall your memory!


  2. Posted by dawn on August 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    got their first album but never got to see them i would if they decided to go back on the road i think they never officially split after last ime they reformed.


  3. This concert has just been released on CD for the first time as Live In Newcastle 1972 ! It’s brilliant. It runs out before Schizoid but the improvs are great. Given to Fripp by an old roadie who found it during a clear-out and wasn’t aware Fripp didn’t have it !


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