King crimson with John Paul jones at Massey Hall, December 5. Tickets: $35.50-$55.50. Attendance: 2,200. Rating: NN
for those impressed with con-stantly fluctuating time signatures and razzle-dazzle guitar solos, the King Crimson/John Paul Jones double bill at Massey Hall was heaven. There's no denying that the lads from King Crimson are all supremo musicians, but virtuosity is about all they have going for them.
Opener Jones, ex-bassist for Led Zeppelin, wasn't much better, running through a set of mind-numbingly dull originals interspersed with slightly more interesting instrumental takes on Zep tunes.
There were some decent musical ideas, including a wailing, slow blues number played by Jones on the mandolin and a romping version of When The Levee Breaks, but generally the three-piece failed to ignite. Although Jones was great as a sideman in Led Zeppelin, here he's just the frontman of a faceless -- albeit talented -- session band.
As for the headliners, bandleader/guitar wizard Robert Fripp stayed away from the spotlight for the entire show as the four-piece band drew out every single one of their prog-metal excursions to unbearable lengths.
Light years away from the Mellotron-drenched, jazz-inflected progressive sound of their earliest (and best) albums, Crimson's current incarnation bears more resemblance to a wussy Tool than to their 70s prog contemporaries.
Intense and dramatic for the first five minutes, Crimson's dark and dissonant shtick grew thin quickly, and Pat Mastelotto's plodding electronic drums turned some of the better riffs into wrestler theme songs.
Chops are great and all, but if you haven't got the material to back them up, stick to playing the crowd pleasers.