De Montfort Hall

While the sonic quality of the covert cassette recording masks the fine detail, in the broad strokes it provides an audio snapshot of a band that is very much enjoying itself on stage as a few humorous asides coming from the drum and guitar stools at various points demonstrate.

The audience would have been familiar with the tracks from Poseidon and Lizard, and of course a blistering Schizoid Man, featuring intense white-hot soloing from from Fripp and Collins. While ‘heavy,’ as the heads used to say back then, it also stretches the fabric of rock to its very limits pulling both band and punters alike into a turbulent, alternative free-jazz vortex. It’s not until the piece hooks back into the spiky unison lines that you realise how far out into uncharted waters this Crimson were sometimes prepared to travel.

A slightly different feeling of discovery is present earlier in the show when, after a particularly caustic rendition of Pictures Of A City, Boz announces “A song now which we’ve just finished recording.” Formentera Lady heralds a section of the show where the following thirty minutes are occupied by playing five of the six tracks that would appear on Islands, still just under two months away from its December release date.

During the song inspired by Peter Sinfield’s recent holiday in the Balearics, Fripp adds some licks that wouldn’t be out of place in a West Coast jam band, as Boz adds his serene, blissed out croon.
Although Sailor’s Tale had been in the band’s repertoire since March and April that year, it’s now properly codified and delivers a substantial punch that sets the punters reeling.

By contrast, The Letters plays with the dynamic extremes wherein the silences between Fripp’s shivery accompaniment and Boz’s confessional-style vocal has the crowd rapt every bit as much as the blow-out chorus and middle section. Singing the final couplet with only the PA hum in the background, several seconds pass before the crowd erupts into appreciative applause.

The performance of Islands, which Boz names as the title track of their new album, is a thing of beauty. One of Fripp’s most telling melodies, the song was soon dropped from the setlist. However, this outing is simply exquisite. Yes, the sound is lo-fi but the clarity of the tune and the luscious playing within comes across loud and clear.

The ending of Ladies Of The Road demonstrates that not everything about the piece was nailed down and the early section after the head in Groon sounds like there was a work-in-progress melody being tossed around, and the sustain-lead rendition of Peace A Theme, with stylistic echoes of Prince Rupert's Lament, is a fascinating moment of Fripp in truly rhapsodic form. All told this performance stands as one of the best and most complete accounts of the KC setlist at this period.
Intro and Tune Up
Pictures of a City
Formentera Lady
The Sailor's Tale
The Letters
Ladies of the Road
Peace A Theme
21st Century Schizoid Man
My Hobby
Written by Jeffrey Blehar
The Islands-era audience recording you were waiting for.
For Crimson fanatics - the sort who know the differences between what April '71 sounds like versus March '72, or May '73 versus October '73 for that matter - this tape is very grail-like. It features: 1.) An extremely well-taped audience recording (particularly for a first-timer!). Clear (albeit typically distant) sonics, a minimum of (always between-song) rustling, and no obnoxious crowd chatter. 2.) A complete, unedited show with the band in fine form, having fleshed out the Islands-era m...
Written by Chris Bent
My first field recording
I cannot lie for it was I who sat cocooned in seat A88 on the lefthand balcony of the Leicester De Montfort Hall. Look, that must be Boz! Gosh, so that’s a mellotron! Why is Robert playing his guitar without an amplifier? Why can I hear the singing but not a damn word of Robert’s profound wisdom between songs? Ooh, Formentera Lady… I hope they do Sailor’s Tale with those mellotrons… Must keep still to avoid microphonic rustlings. Armed with a Teleton mono tape recorder (loaded with a P...
Written by Neil Talbott
My first King Crimson show...
What can I say? I never thought I'd ever have the opportunity to hear this show again. I feel so much gratitude to the bootlegger who taped this and sent the show to DGM. It's just fantastic hearing it all again. Cirkus, for me anyway, was by far the best song from Lizard. And I've no problem whatsoever with the 'slow going' another reviewer mentioned. Altogether, a wonderful show; brought back to me the memory of how stunned I felt after the last ripples of The Devil's Triangle died away.
Written by Matthew Venuti
Great quality
This may be an audience bootleg, but you are not going to find a better quality tape from 1971. It is amazing how good this sounds for its era. Definitely should be a 4 star audio quality. As far as the performance goes, Mel is outstanding. I'm just getting into this era of KC after initially not being taken with Islands. These live shows from 1971 really help these songs breath and show that this was probably an underrated line-up. Definitely worth the $10.