Talk about chalk and cheese or to put it another way: what a difference a day makes. After their uneven performance at in Pittsburgh, Boz and the boys spent a day travel up to Milwaukee and washed up at the Riverside theatre. 24 hours spent away from the stage has made them hungry again, giving this gig a distinctive edge to the set. Arguably the best live rendering of Formentera Lady is to be found here; Fripp’s chords and timing are tight and consequently Boz’s vocals are focussed and sharp. Collins moves from supportive flute to bracing salvos of alto sax fired over the rhythm section inquisitive wanderings which range from sparse funk, R&B shuffle, and Elvin Jones workout. As it migrates to become The Sailors Tale, Collins’ frenetic soloing demonstrates why there was no other band quite like Crim doing the rounds back then; it’s jazz rock but not as we know it, Jim.
A cracking, take-no-prisoners version of The Great Deceiver opens this defining, much bootlegged performance from 1974. For those who prefer a pastoral Crim, look no further than the sublime improv Daniel Dust that quells a boisterous crowd (including yelled requests for Ladies of the Road) and elegantly sets up a reflective Night Watch. This is desert island stuff indeed.
“This next song is aptly titled Circkus” says Boz with a slight edge in his voice. Here’s the band at the half way point of what they know is their last tour together. Certainly there’s a lot of clowning around that masks some of the unresolved tensions and resentments that were part of the Crimso chemistry at the time.
Whichever way you look at this is a significant show: the last time King Crimson played anywhere in mainland Europe. As such there’s a certain end-of-term aspect here - a rushing Dinosaur, a final flush in the cheeks of Red as it hits the finishing line. Humour plays its part as well when Belew quips to quell the photographers before a dazzling ConstruKction of Light.