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Home » John Paul Jones

Palace Theatre, Greensburg, PA

2 December 2001 2,244 views No Comment

I personally was very excited about this joint tour, as I have been an enthusiast of both for many years. I had previously attended 2 King Crimson shows in 1996 (as well as a ProjeKct Two show in 1998), and a John Paul Jones show in 2000. I seem to be somewhat unique in that I love the music of both; from reading reviews of other shows, it seems that the KC crowd finds JPJ “boring”, and the Zeppelin/JPJ crowd finds KC “too weird”. (This is obviously an unfair generalization, but I’ve read similar comments to that effect repeatedly.) In short, this night was a dream come true for me.
The Palace Theatre is a small (1300 seat) theatre of the type with chandeliers and Grecian marble, decorated in white and gold. The venue usually books orchestras, brass bands, choral groups, and performers more often seen on the state fair circuit. The JPJ/KC combination booking seemed a bit odd (I suspect that it the most likely Pittsburgh-area venue that meets Robert Fripp’s somewhat fussy standards), but I’m not complaining – all performers were easily visible and audible, but not too loud or distorted. Greensburg is about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, and quite convenient for me, 40 miles away in Johnstown. The crowd itself was usually quite low key and respectful, absolutely silent except for enthusiastic applause between songs. The ages of the audience ranged from about five (I spotted at least three children under 10) to late 60s or possibly 70s, with quite a few college age folks as well. The average age was definitely in the late 30s or 40s (not too different from that of the performers). There seemed to be a fair number of women, many (like my wife) undoubtedly SPUDs (SPouses Under Duress)TBL/Webman Comment: Great Abbreviation! dragged along by earnest not-so-young men. Ticket takers and security reminded everyone verbally about the “no photographs” rule (and there were many posted notices), and the venue has a “no smoking” policy. Fortunately, all of the audience members complied, and we were rewarded with two encores from King Crimson (see set list below).
The merchandise area had several KC T-shirts, a KC polo shirt, and one JPJ shirt ($25-$35), and a number of CDs: KC “Heavy ConstruKction” and “Level Five EP”, BPM&M “ExtraKcts & ArtifaKcts”, The Bears’ new one, Trey Gunn band “Live Encounter”, and JPJ “Zooma” are what I recall. I picked up “Level Five” (a must have, assuming you like KC) and BPM&M (cool mixes of KC snippets), as I already own “Zooma” and “Heavy ConstruKction”. (JPJ’s “Thunderthief” was not available, as it is now only available as a Japanese import, but will be released here on Feb. 5, 2002, according to a flyer at the show.)
Now, on to the show….
“The John Paul Jones Orchestra” (7:45 – 8:55)
John Paul Jones: 8 & 10 string basses, lap steel guitar, electric mandolin, acoustic and electric ukelele, vocals
Nick Beggs: Chapman stick, Ovation acoustic 12-string guitar, backing vocals on “That’s The Way”
Terl Bryant: drums & percussion, bodrhan(?), backing vocals on “That’s The Way”
Set list: (approximate order)
Pre-Show: The Shaggs on the PA, then Kyma as the lights dimmed.
Zooma – JPJ on bass, from “Zooma”
Leafy Meadows – JPJ on bass, from “Thunderthief”
The Smile Of Your Shadow – JPJ on bass & lap steel, from “Zooma”
That’s The Way – JPJ on electric mandolin & vocals, NB on acoustic guitar, TB on bodrhan (I believe), from “Led Zeppelin III”
Freedom Song – JPJ solo, on ukelele & vocals, from “Thunderthief”
Hoediddle – JPJ on electric ukelele, from “Thunderthief”
B. Fingers (with Heartbreaker teaser) – JPJ on bass & lap steel, from “Zooma”
When The Levee Breaks – JPJ on lap steel, from “Led Zeppelin Untitled 4th album”
Tidal – JPJ on bass, from “Zooma”
Encore: Black Dog (with In My Time Of Dying teaser) – JPJ on lap steel, from “Led Zeppelin Untitled 4th album”
I loved the set, my wife enjoyed it very much (previously not having an opinion one way or the other). Contrary to reports at previous shows, from our position on the floor (eleven rows back on the right aisle) every instrument was clearly audible. JPJ’s vocals are not bad, much better than previous live attempts I’ve heard (i.e., counterpoint vocal on “Battle of Evermore” from 1977 Led Zeppelin tour). The new tunes are very much in the “Zooma” style with a lot of soloing from JPJ and Nick. I think that KC newbies were treated to a lot of puzzling two-hand tapping with Beggs’ Chapman stick playing (with he and JPJ trading off on bass and lead duties on their respective instruments) and Trey Gunn’s Warr guitaring with Crimson. I heard some folks calling Beggs’ instrument a “harp”.
There wasn’t much crowd interaction, but I think the crowd showed its appreciation to the band and vice versa. A call for “Stairway To Heaven” before “That’s The Way” was met with “Can I do something else instead?” It’s hard to believe the man is 55 years old, as he could pass for 45 (from eleven rows back, anyway) and his multi-instrumental talents have not diminished over the years.

And now the Crimson set…
King Crimson (9:30-10:55)
Adrian Belew: guitars, vocals, effects
Robert Fripp: guitar
Trey Gunn: Warr guitar
Pat Mastelotto: acoustic & electronic percussion
Set list: (approximate order)
Pre-show: taped Fripp soundscaping (as the crew broke down JPJ gear and set up KC; fortunately Pat’s kit is assembled on a wheeled platform)
Dangerous Curves (from “Level Five” EP)
The ConstruKction of Light (from “The ConstruKction of Light”)
Into The Frying Pan (from “The ConstruKction of Light”)
EleKctric (to be recorded for the next album)
Elephant Talk (from “Discipline”)
VROOOM / Coda:Marine 475 (from “Thrak”)
Virtuous Circle (from “Level Five” EP)
Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part IV / Instrumental Coda (from “The ConstruKction of Light”)
Encore 1: The Deception Of The Thrush (from “Level Five” EP), Level Five (from “Level Five” EP)
Encore 2: Red (from “Red”)
I loved it, but my dear wife came away without an answer to the question of what I find so compelling about this band. (I won’t try to answer it here.) I found it exceptional, and the few folks I overheard or spoke to afterwards apparently agree. The sound was clear and not overpowering – I brought earplugs for protection as a caution, but didn’t use them, and there have been no lasting effects. Most of the set is quite heavy, with some lighter moments (“Virtuous Circle”, Trey’s solo in “Deception…”). Again, the crowd was very quiet as the music played, so it’s difficult to tell how the musicians felt about the gig and the crowd’s reaction to it (I’ll be checking Trey’s and Pat’s online diaries for any comments they might have). The previously mentioned solo by Trey was especially well received, and he mouthed a “thank you” during the extended applause. Before the second encore, Adrian asked for a show of hands of who had and had not previously seen Crimson live, and there were many “newbies”. Few of the audience left before Crimson’s set, from what I could tell. All the numbers were cheered loudly, so I hope the band felt it was a warm reception. It was not a perfect show, but the few imperfections were probably only recognized by the obsessive faithful – Fripp with the wrong sound setting (twice!) in “VROOOM”, the occasional missed entry by the other guitarist (prompting a slight smile by Fripp) – but overall a “hot” show from this audient’s perspective. The new material is an extension and progression of the “ConstruKction of Light” sound, one that is more electronic/techno sounding than previous incarnations of the band (no surprise to the KC crowd). Clearly, the performers are treating this tour as nearly co-headlining, since JPJ plays a little too long to be the opener, and KC a little too short to be the main attraction.
Steve Kilpatrick

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