Nik Turner's Hawkwind
ME up September 12, 2014
Colonial Theater September 16, 2014
Review and photos by John Keegan
This past week the R&R wheel of fortune continued its spin and landed on one of
the genre's more flamboyant representatives: much maligned Prog. For
many, the use of Prog and rock in the same sentence is an oxymoron.
While, it may be that the autumnal goal of Nik Turner's Hawkwind
and the most recent incarnation of King Crimson is
to trash that idea.
Turner's Hawkwind (as opposed
to Hawkwind proper's mainman Dave Brock who
- for a variety of ambiguous legal and health reasons - can't seem to
land the mothership in a crop circle right here in the USA) represents
the space rockin' contingent of merry Progsters. They are touring in
reprise of Hawkwind's 1973 intergalactic magnum opus
Space Ritual. The band included Nicky Garratt
(guitar), Jason Willer (drums), Bryce Shelton
(bass) and Kephera Moon (keys, vox and synths). An
additional women on keys and violin will have to remain nameless.
The band fired up the rocket and headed up and out.
Garratt's guitar was sharp on the big riff rockers.
His solos take a turn toward the lysergic. The two synths' swoop and
whizz create the space time continuum that everything flies into. Nik
and the women dance a slinky, snaky Busby Berkeley on Uranus set piece
that spills out into the audience. Bass and drum never flag. The electric
violin, and a guest on flying V electric violin, keep the engines humming
at warp speed. Nik moves from flute to tenor sax throughout
the night. The flute tripping the light fantastic and the squawking,
free-jazz tenor sax give Nik's space ritual its instantly recognizable
sound. The boarding has begun.
Robert Fripp's current (and rumor
has it last, but we've heard that one before) incarnation of King
Crimson includes Gavin Harrison (drums), Bill
Rieflin (drums), Pat Mastelotto (drums), Tony
Levin (basses), Mel Collins (horns), Jakko
Jakszyk (guitar, vocals) and Robert Fripp
(guitar). These boys represent the scientists and quantum mechanics
of Prog rock.
The band samples liberally from most phases of a long
career - choosing to skip over the Adrian Belew years.
The sound at the most beautiful Colonial is warm and pristine. The mix
clear and tremendous. It will make one hell of an audience boot. Three
full drum kits with their assorted percussion and synth units line the
front of the stage. The band mounts the riser behind the drums. The
look is unfamiliar and appealing.
Crimson immediately show off their range with Larks
Tongues in Aspic Pt 1. The interplay between players is sublime.
The three drum lineup defies its visual overkill with exchanges that
slip between delicate and fierce. Patterns criss and cross. Mastelotto,
Harrison and Rieflin pass parts from
one to the other like six hands and feet with one brain. They jump on
a unison riff, fracture into distinctive, interlaced subsections and
pair up and fall apart with precision promiscuity.
Tony Levin switches between electric
bass, electric upright bass and stick. His tone is tight and full. Mel
Collins takes a luxurious alto flute solo. His free playing
on alto and tenor sax crackle and prod and, when he lays into the Rubinesque
baritone sax, the music ratchets up another notch. Jakko Jakszyk's
vocals have that stentorian attitude that most Crimson
lyrics demand. His lead and second guitar exceed all challenges - and
there are many. Larks Tongues Pt 2, Red,
The ConstruKction of Light, Starless and 21st Century
Schizoid Man. All those time signatures. All those drummers.
Finally, there is Mr. Fripp. He sits
on his barstool stage left. The no nonsense composer in natty vest and
tie. He leaves the comic relief to between song, taped excerpts of questions
from over earnest interviewers followed by his pithy responses. His
genius is on full display tonight. The complex compositions. The twisted
arrangements. The tonality and percussive nature of the instrumentation.
The subtlety. The ferocity. His guitar tone, in full solo flight, sears
shut the tears the band rips open in our inner space.
This fall, Turner's Hawkwind and
Fripp's King Crimson just might, for a moment, give
Prog Rock a good name. King Crimson has a strict no picture rule.