King Crimson is a rock 'n' roll rarity: a band that has reunited to make better music than it did in its original incarnation. Last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the new King Crimson proved it is still possible to make galvanizing rock 'n' roll out of complex musical experimentation.
Founding guitarist Robert Fripp and new guitarist Adrian Belew engaged in long, intense duets that dug up new ground in the much picked-over field of rock guitar. Wearing professorial glasses and a bow tie, Fripp sat on a stool amid myriad foot switches as he sculpted out sinuous synthesized guitar phrases as if with a scalpel. Wearing a baggy beige suit, Belew bounded about the stage, chopping out howling feedback and screaming slides as if with an ax.
Tony Levin, playing a 10-string stick base, and Bill Bruford, playing trap drums, electric drums and ethnic percussion, supplied a rhythmic underpinning to this dialogue that was sufficiently flexible without ever losing the pronounced rock beat. This tour, though, has showcased the final flowering of Belew's talent. His lyrics and singing have finally caught up with the band's powerful music, especially on new songs like "Neal and Jack and Me." Belew dominated the stage with his loping movements, mugging faces and charismatic presence.