I was just 16. All I knew about King Crimson I read it in italian books at the time, plus some pre-historic web browsing text saved from ET to floppy disk. I was fascinated by Crimso, by its story and its lack of compromises. At least, this is what I heard about it. Concerning the music, all I had heard at the time was In the court of the Crimson King. I knew KC were much changed, I know Robert was the only one from that time far away being still in the band, and this made my curiosity grow and grow. On that 21st of June of 2000 I was in the perfect situation to enjoy such a show. Young, committed, curious, open and ignorant. Something inside of me kept saying that was a hot date not to miss, so I begged my parents (no driving license at the time) to pay for the concert, and take me there. They accepted, and there I was. Without a ticket, without a clue. My mother didn’t like old Crimso so much (and neither does she like new Crimso nowadays), so she left me at the theatre and went wandering the town next to the lake. It was a wonderful first-summer italian night. A kind guy saw this young ticketless fellow in front of the venue and asked me if I wanted a third-row sit. Turned out that a friend of his was missing and he was looking to sell the ticket. I bought it and we sat there, 3mt away from (I didn’t know at the time) mr. Fripp’s stool. Behind the stage, that night, there was not the familiar horizontal sheet you can see in the photos and DVDs of that tour, but the immense mutant landscape of the lake.
A man – that I later recognized as P@t – went for a long check at the equipment. I chatted with my new pal while enthusiasm (but not expectation) grew. The band came onstage as soon as it was dark enough and started the set.
Now that it’s finally been released I can say: what a killer set it was! From the first seconds of Frying Pan you can feel the band is “in the zone” (to quote the concert review). They didn’t play anything prior 1995 except from ThreeOfAperfectPair and Heroes. But yet, I didn’t know. What I experienced was just like somebody had opened my skull and started filling it. There was an empty space waiting to be poured with experimentation at the time, and what I saw and heard filled perfectly. I remember myself litterly jaw-dropped as I saw mr. Fripp playing with any kind of sound from the guitar. I remember my thoughts about that strange, large, amazing kind of bass. But was it a bass? I remember my wonder in front of the sounds of P@t’s kit, I remember (did it really happen?) when he launched an half-empty bottle on the stage from his chair at the beginning of Thrush. I remember clapping as hard as I could. I remember that man shouting for “Epitaph” as well. Or was it “Talk to the wind”? Every minute something new, and strange, and beautiful happened. My concentration level was as high as ever. I was learning while enjoying, laughing hard when songs changed shape in a second. I didn’t know they also improvised some tunes during that night. When I get to knew that, I started longing for this recording. And now here it is. I’m not pretending when I say that the young guy that came out of that concert was different from the young guy that entered. That night I was in the right place, at the right time, and feeling it. I don’t know if that’s what mr. Fripp calls “a generous audience”. What’s sure is that I’d like to thank him, and them, for that glorious night. A night that changed for sure my life (and the life of my friends and relatives as well, pity their ears).
Edit – july 2018 – Robert Fripp stated multiple times that – in order to understand what King Crimson is doing, you’re asked to have “innocent ears”. It fills my heart to see that this very post was shared – by him – with the following caption.
Edit: july 2019 In the latest King Crimson box set, Heaven and earth, 33 minutes from that magic night are included in the video. And in a audience shot, at the beginning, there’s a young guy wearing what looks just like an Alan Parsons brown t-shirt from The Time Machine era…