At 7:30 PM sharp, the California Guitar Trio took the stage with a big sound from two specially tuned acoustic guitars and a Chapman Stick. They played 5 instrumentals – the first 4 of which were original (Titles: "Andromeda," "Yamanashi Blues," "Alva," "Punta Patri"). The last was an instrumental cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” and drew an enthusiastic standing ovation. They left the stage at 7:53PM.
At 7:58 the 6-piece Zappa Band came on. They consisted of 3 guitar players, sax, one bass and a drummer, with 1 of the guitarists doubling on keyboards and the sax player also doubling on keyboards. Everyone sang with the exception of one guitarist. They opened with "Zombie Woof" – the rest of the songs were less known to me and included “I Ain’t Got No Heart” from Freak Out!, “Village of the Sun” from Roxy & Elsewhere, “City of Tiny Lights from Sheik Yerbouti,” and “Florentine Pogen” from One Size Fits All. They played with precision. They were off around 8:45 or so, after which 3 drum sets were wheeled to the front of the stage – each with interesting artwork on the bass drum heads.
Just before King Crimson walked on at 9:10 PM, a recorded message from Robert Fripp was played inviting the audience to photograph the band at the end of the concert, as the band would be taking pix of “you” the audience, but to refrain from such activity during the performance. They opened with a lengthy intricate drum cadence titled, “The Hellhounds of Krim” performed by the 3 drummers – the rest of the band waiting patiently in their raised positions at the back of the stage for the moment when they would be counted in to “Pictures of a City” (In the Wake of Poseidon).
The rest of their set included “Epitaph”, “Red”, “Indiscipline”, “Islands” after which Tony Levin took a rousing electric stand-up bass solo, “Radical Action II,” “Starless” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” was played as an encore. The drummers were Pat Mastelotto, Jeremy Stacey – who also played keyboards, and Gavin Harrison who all deserve to be named as fantastic individual performers that collaborate just as brilliantly. They make for the visual excitement most often provided by guitarist on-stage acrobatics, but not possible in an outfit where the brilliant guitar-hero leader, Robert Fripp, sits on a stool and has since 1968.
Mel Collins, the other original band-member, played his saxophones and flutes behind a plexiglass isolation booth. The veteran adds the familiar bits to the old tunes and brings excellent aural colors to the numbers that were minus his contributions in their studio versions. Jakko Jakszyk, formerly of KC tribute band 21st Century Schizoid Band, supplied vocals with his tone and range quite similar to the late great Greg Lake. He also harmonized on guitar with Fripp and played feature parts of his own.
Due to this year’s program allowing more time to the opening acts, KC’s set was significantly shorter than that which they performed at the Greek in 2019. I think the variety in the schedule was an improvement on an already excellent show.
– Marty Tippens