For the new Virgin album “Thrak” and its tour, Fripp has elected to go with a “double trio” format, adding bassist Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto to the ’80s unit. The outcome mixes the best of the two previous Crimson incarnations without ever hitting upon a distinctive style of its own.
The group opened with “Vrooom,” a potent, ever-shifting instrumental that glides easily from sharp, anthem-based rock to quiet and gorgeous figures delicately spun out by Fripp. This yielded to a clunky version of 1981’s “Frame by Frame,” the song’s busy criss-crossing rhythms occasionally failing to hit their marks.
Vocals and lyrics have always been Crimson’s weak links, and though Belew has improved, he can still be guilty of mere wordplay.
The instrumentals are where Crimson has made its reputation, and on this night the group swung with authority on the darkly swaggering “Red,” violently cacophonous “Thrak” and the inevitable “The Talking Drum/Larks’ Tongues in Aspic , Part II,” both of which rhythmically build with mathematical precision.