Fripp, Robert and The League of Crafty Guitarists (November 2007)

Date of Performance: November 3, 2007
Venue: The Egg - Swyer Theather, Albany NY, US

Robert Fripp is one of progressive rock's founding fathers and most respected guitarists. Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 found Mr. Fripp in Albany, NY at The Egg's Swyer Theater with his group of protégés, better known as The League of Crafty Guitarists (TLCG). The night began with an announcement from the musicians (in their various languages) that there would be no photos or taping of the performance. Mr. Fripp then began creating his tape looped sound effects alone on the stage.

We jokingly nicknamed TLCG the Stepford guitarists. The musicians walked out single file, behind their seats and around, all holding their guitars the same way, then sitting all at the same time. An almost military exercise prior to their performance. A very serious demeanor was taken throughout the performance (a few smiles could be seen at times). All dressed in black with the same Ovation acoustic guitars, this just came off as funny. The music however is anything but, as TLCG played skillfully throughout the night. The music is orchestrated beautifully, with three or four different themes going on at once, then suddenly all will join in playing the same part. One interesting bit was when each guitarist would play a single note, and continue on down the line, playing an entire section of music in this format. Fripp's parts seemed more improvised, as he creates layers of electronic sounds over the top of the acoustic music.

In the middle of the second song, Fripp stopped the performance and pointed to a member of the audience. TLCG's were dismissed from the stage (walking off military style) and Fripp walked into the crowd to point out a violation (I believe someone snapped a picture). Once the situation was taken care of, Fripp returned to the stage to lecture us about how critical a good start was to the entire performance. He reminded us that we were asked at the start of the show to not take pictures or audio (in many languages, including English). The most memorable line went to the effect of: "We have a reputation for punctuality, which we have maintained by being punctual," a jab at those who walked in late for the performance. Once this was done, Fripp asked the audience: "Shall we begin again?"

The hour and a half performance flew by, with bits of King Crimson songs thrown in ("Vroom" stands out). The guitars sounded at moments beautiful and other times harsh, rigid and aggressive. The music was very precise, almost stiff at times, but Fripp's music has always had that quality about it. It is really interesting to hear how many wonderful sounds are created from an acoustic guitar. Fripp's role seems two-fold, he often sits and listens (almost like a conductor), while other times he employs the well-known Frippertronics soundscapes over the top of the music. The performance comes off as more of a recital than a concert, but it was truly impressive. Robert Fripp continues to explore the boundaries of music, and it is not often that someone would give the spotlight away, but TLCG deserved and got as much attention as Fripp, and it seemed intended to be that way.

Added: November 10th 2007
Reviewer: Eric Porter
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Language: english

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