Originally scheduled for 2020, postponed for a full year because of the pandemic, the tour began July in Florida as the latest Covid wave hit and the band moved across the country in a tour bus bubble. Following a two-week break due to scheduling conflicts, they returned to the road again, with the Zappa Band appearing nightly before Crimson. Now facing gigs that had to be moved due to extreme weather, with one venue flooded a day before a concert, an open-air venue in New York transferred to the more familiar Beacon Theatre, and even a band member flown to hospital via helicopter, King Crimson faced a range of challenging conditions. Happily, the band member was fully recovered and no gigs were missed despite the array of setbacks and obstacles. By the time King Crimson reached Washington, the band was in ferocious form with a powerful, energetic set with some arrangements reworked and differing from previous tours.
Featuring a restored middle section of ‘Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part One’ that had not been played since 1973, substantial keyboard arrangements, Tony Levin on upright bass during ‘Neurotica’ giving the piece an extra swing, there’s an emotional set-closer, Starless and an immensely powerful ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ as an encore.
King Crimson completed their tour in style and to much acclaim from fans and critics alike. As Robert Fripp notes in his diary entry included in the notes: “David (Singleton, KC manager/producer), pointed out that the very first piece KC played in the US, at Godard College, Montpelier, Vermont on October 29th. 1969, was the same piece as completed KC’s 52 years – 21CSM”.
In contrast to the Washington show, the four performances from the ‘Friends and Family’ concert in late August 2021 at The Egg in Albany, opening show of the second leg of the tour and the same venue where the current band played its first US gig in 2014, have a more intimate feel. As befits a small venue/invited audience, the sound and pacing provide an opportunity to hear a run of material not played in Washington due to time constraints. Bringing the second disc with a poignant performance of ‘Islands’ – perhaps the best recording of this song by this band, David Singleton, who also prepared all the audio for this release, thought it one of the best sets the band played on this or previous tours.