As The Adrian Belew Power Trio enters its last week of a mammoth 50 date North American and European tour, I caught the band at The Mod Club in Toronto. Words and pictures by Tim Darbyshire.
After playing The Mod Club in late 2014, Adrian Belew made a welcome return to the Mod Club last night, ably supported as ever by Julie Slick on bass and Tobias Ralph on drums. Adrian and co treated the enthusiastic crowd to an eclectic mix of solo material and King Crimson numbers throughout the two hour show split over two sets.
Adrian Belew famously fronted legendary progressive band King Crimson for 30 years – unfortunately he’s not part of the current touring King Crimson – as well as working with such luminaries as Talking Heads, David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Nine Inch Nails to name but a few. The innovative guitar virtuoso sprinkled the Crimson content liberally throughout the two sets, including crowd favourites ‘Frame By Frame’, ‘Elephant Talk’, ‘Dinosaur’, ‘Neurotica’, ‘Heartbeat’, “One Time’, ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ and finishing the second set with a rousing rendition of ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’.
The chemistry on stage between the three talented musicians was great to see, clearly they were all enjoying themselves. Using guitar effects and looping phrases, Belew and the band build up an impressive crescendo of sound for just three performers. I’m not normally one for drum solos, but Tobias Ralph proved the exception to the rule with a precise and powerful display towards the end of the first set.
The solo material was as enjoyable, if less familiar – and the balance of old and new seemed about right. Songs ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘E’ and ‘Beat Box Guitar’ allowed more room for expression and improvisation. Hopefully Adrian will return before too long as the performance was at times mesmerising and always entertaining.
2017 is another busy year for the extended King Crimson family. In addition to the Adrian Belew Power Trio, Toronto will see King Crimson play Massey Hall on July 5th, and Stick Men (featuring current members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto) playing at The Garrison on August 27th. These are shows not to be missed!