Adrian Belew Power Trio 5.4.17

Isis Music Hall
Asheville, NC

Words by Taylor Hall
Photos by J. Scott Shrader Photography

Perhaps one of the most mind rattling shows I have ever attended, Adrian Belew Power Trio was nothing short of mesmerizing. If you aren't familiar with Adrian, I will give you a brief run down of his musical journey. Adrian was discovered by Frank Zappa at age 27 playing in a cover band. Shortly after, he would be passed on to David Bowie, before heading way to join Talking Heads on the album Remain In Light. Adrian would find a permanent home joining Robert Fripp's King Crimson for the next 30 years.

The night would start with a few technical difficulties, as one of Julie Slick's Pedals failed, and then they had a few more glitches using the computer software they loop through. This was not an issue for the crowd that was filled with hard core music lovers that understand the perils that come with putting on a live show. Once all the quirks were worked out the show was set to begin.

The set started off with three tracks off of Adrian's 1990 release Young Lions. The band would smoothly segue into "Big Electric Cat" off of the Lone Rhino release. "Cat" would serve to take the audience on a sonic journey of the mind, truly displaying the bands chops. Tobias Ralph and Julie Slick have been hand picked by Adrian for good reason. The trio is a testament to the fact that more is not always better, as the three of them produce a bigger sound on stage then most 5 piece bands. Julie Slick has the charm and sound that would make Geddy Lee revel. Tobias is an absolute monster behind the kit, often displaying his in depth sense of time and structure.

The band would next usher up a few much anticipated King Crimson tracks, running through "One Time," "Dinosaur," and "Heartbeat." The band was now locked and loaded, ready to send the crowd into an absolute frenzy. The opening riffs of the classic Adrian track "Writing On The Wall" was upon us. This song was recorded in 2005 featuring Danny Carey of Tool and Les Claypool of Primus. Julie Slick and Tobias Ralph met the challenge, bringing an absolute heater rendition of this beloved prog classic. To round out the set, the band would drift into the classic "Frame by Frame" from King Crimson's Discipline album. This song has always been near and dear to my heart. Leaving the set on a high note Tobias showed off his chops delivering an incredible drum solo the metal gods would be proud of. The drum solo would melt into full band action as they took on another Adrian tune, "Beat Box Guitar." This song was a prog journey for the ages showing off each member's individual talents. Julie Slick was doing maddening bass riffs and fills leaving only destruction and chaos in her path, as Adrian showed off his witty charm changing the time measures of the song at will. The sonic soundscapes Adrian can achieve on his guitar is something one should experience, as it's hard to put to words exactly how incredible he is live.

The mad scientist and his lab rats were just getting started as they had another set of phenomenal music planned ahead. The set would open with the maniacal track "b," blending elements of prog and metal that is as thought provoking as it is evil. Slipping into darkness the band would revive the crowd's mental health pulling out the King Crimson track "Three Of A Perfect Pair" before unleashing hell again with the instrumental track "b3" and dropping into "Neurotica." "Neurotica" is one of those classic King Crimson tracks that features Adrian manically talking to himself or perhaps some one else that we can not see. The band followed up with the beautiful King Crimson track "Walking On Air," giving the audience a small glimpse of cloud nine. In line next was the drum driven sound of the song "Ampersand," keeping the theme of the second set alive "Heaven and Hell."

The band would swing into a 12 minute section comprised of "Future Vision," "Boys Keep Swinging" into "Of Bow and Drum," "Elephant Talk." This section encapsulated Adrian's career, putting his signature animal cry guitar on full display. The night would end with a dance party as the band dropped into the oft covered "Thela Hun Ginjeet" sending all of our minds into oblivion. To end the show, the band strapped everyone on a carousel for one more trip around the circus delving into the title track off of the power trio's 2009 release "e." It's so hard to fathom exactly what happened at Isis that evening. I encourage you all to step out of your box and conformities and try on the Power Trio's wild ride of a show.

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