Will King Crimson’s September 1 concert at Jacobs Pavilion be the legendary band’s swan song in Cleveland?
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Be part of King crimson since 2013 has been nothing less than a “surreal” experience for Jakko Jakszyk.
The singer-guitarist “was a fan” years ago, seeing the band for the first time in 1971, at the age of 13, when the British progressive rock group was promoting their new album “Islands” . “A friend of mine had played me ‘the schizoid man of the 21st century’ a year or two ago and it blew my head off,” recalls Jakszyk, 63. “I bought the first three albums and fell in love with them, so seeing them live was kind of a religious experience.
“I left the building that night feeling like my life had changed. So, being in that same band, playing some of the material that they were playing that night, it’s amazing. “When we started, we thought, ‘Oh, maybe a tour’, but… it just kept going. “
Jakszyk, who also plays the flute and keyboards, is in fact part of the oldest formation in King Crimson’s 53-year history, with founder and guitarist Robert Fripp the only mainstay among the 22 musicians who have been part of the group. Other notables have included Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Ian McDonald (foreign), John Wetton (Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Asia), Boz Burrell (Bad Company), Adrian Belew (Talking Heads, David Bowie, the Bears), Bill Bruford (Yes, Genesis) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel).
This incarnation has, oddly, never released a studio album but is represented by numerous live recordings, including from the group’s own Collector’s Club.
It’s also the most unusual setup the band has put on stage, with a frontline of three drummers arranged by Gavin Harrison. (The group performs September 1 at the Jacobs Pavilion in Nautica in Cleveland.)
“We all thought, ‘What? Are you crazy ?! ”” When Fripp introduced the concept, said Jakszyk, who performed in the Fripp-approved 21st Century Schizoid Band before joining King Crimson proper. “I remember we did a few rehearsals with the scene set up as Robert imagined it to be, and as I walked in I was like, ‘Oh, that looks amazing.’ Visually it looked pretty amazing, and all of a sudden we realized that the idea was to turn the traditional formation of rock bands upside down.
“So I could see why (Fripp) did it. It’s like a drummer with 12 limbs up there. It’s a huge challenge, but it worked really well, and there’s a theatricality that is. very exciting.
Jakszyk does not expect this to last any longer, however. After the current North American shows and a few dates in Japan later this year, he says the management told him “It’s very unlikely that we will be back … I think they thought to announce it as some sort of farewell tour was a cheesy device, and something you end up potentially regretting if you change your mind.
“But in essence, as I understand it, this will be the last time we play here.” Things are even more complicated, he adds, with a busy 2022, with places already filled with acts that have chosen to wait another year before returning from their pandemic hiatus, making 2023 the next opening. of a Crimson tour. “I think Tony and Robert will be 77 by then,” says Jakszyk. “I’m not sure they want to be on a tour bus for hours. Filming like we do is tiring for a young man, let alone for people our age.
This might not be the last we hear about this Crimson crew, however. Jakszyk – who has mixed some of the live and archival releases and is also working on another solo album after releasing “Secrets & Lies” in 2020 – says the group has been working on “about 40 to 50 minutes of new stuff” which is due still be configured and completed.
“There are a number of songs that I co-wrote with Robert and some instrumental things that he wrote,” Jakszyk reports. “During the lockdown, Gavin suggested, ‘Why don’t we record these things, so we at least have studio recordings of this material?’ It doesn’t mean that we’re going to make a new album or that it will ever be released, but we’ve started this process.
King Crimson and the Zappa Band perform at 7:30 p.m. on September 1 at the Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, 2014 Sycamore St., Cleveland. $ 37.50 and more. 216-622-6557 or nauticaflats.com.