Robert Fripp answers critics as King Crimson tour concludes: ‘This is a pretty dopey undertaking’

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Robert Fripp says he’s noticed something about critics, as he took a reformulated version of King Crimson back on the road this year: Some people can only see the band through the prism of their favorite era.

“For example, 1973” he tells Sid Smith, referencing a period that produced Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. “There’s criticism of King Crimson 2014 in terms of why it is not like King Crimson in 1973. For me, this is a pretty dopey undertaking — and one that’s doomed the failure.”

After all, King Crimson has been in a perpetual state of flux for much of its history, rarely going more than a few albums with the same lineup. That heralded third lineup — the one in place in 1973 — was finished by ’74. The original and seventh lineups lasted but two years, the fourth and fifth ones only three, and the sixth edition just four.

King Crimson is on version 8.0, a configuration led by a trio of drummers. They just concluded an invigorating, return-to-form 20-plus date U.S. tour, the band’s first since 2008 — playing a setlist focused on older material.

That, in turn, led to charges of predictability, which Fripp also addresses. “Believe me, there is nothing whatsoever predictable about playing this material on stage with this band,” he says. “Playing these charts, with six other musicians in front of paying audiences — most of whom know the material better than the band do — this is not an easy option. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable undertaking.”

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