Adrian Belew Power Trio 10.6.11

The Magic Bag
Ferndale, MI

Words and Photos by Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)

I arrived to the Magic Stick with my buddy Adam a few minutes before the start of the show. I’d never seen the venue as packed as it was this night, and at first glance, I thought I’d taken a wrong turn towards a chess match reunion rather than a rock show. Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa) and his power trio took the stage to an almost motionless crowd. In fact, the crowd was hardly responsive throughout the entire night. Maybe they were veterans that knew what they were getting into? Who knows? One thing for certain... Adrian Belew is an masterful guitarist, quite possibly the most expressive I’ve ever seen at his instrument. Channeling some seriously sick tones right off the bat, he and his power trio played mostly his solo tunes during the first set, the majority from his latest album titled E. Belew was flanked by bassist Julie Slick and drummer Tobias Ralph, both youngsters who clearly were enjoying their time onstage with the journeyed axeman.

During the second set, the Adrian Belew Power Trio was joined by openers the Stick Men. Consisting of two of Belew’s former band mates, Tony Levin (bass, Chapman Stick) and Pat Mastelotto (drums), as well as Chapman Stick virtuoso Michael Bernier, the Stick Men added a fullness to an already explosive sound. The hybrid sextet moved through the King Crimson-heavy set with dominating ease, performing tunes such as “Red”, “Frame by Frame”, “Dinosaur”, and “Indiscipline,” a song that capped the performance beautifully with its progressive time signatures, modal melodies, some insane vocal babbling by Belew that had the crowd on their toes, anxiously anticipating the next wild instrumental ride within the tune.

After a very short encore break, the sextet returned to the stage and nailed the Crimson classic “Thela Hun Ginjeet”. After they concluded, the entire band came out and took a bow. The older audience that had remained relatively subdued throughout the show finally loosened as it give the band an incredible ovation that was much deserved. I left in a confused state, wondering what I had just seen. It’s very rare that I leave a show thinking, “How in the hell did the band just do that?” It’s a welcomed feeling, and I encourage any fan of King Crimson or Adrian Belew to check this group out for themselves. You won’t regret it.

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