21st Century Schizoid Band is essentially a King Crimson revival and cover band, made up mostly of members of the group from its formative 1969-71 period. While this concept could easily have turned out to be as ridiculous as a Sha Na Na reunion tour, 21st CSB instead presented a remarkable re-exploration of music long overlooked outside the narrow world of Crim enthusiasts.
The heart of this band lies in its horns, ably wielded by Foreigner founder Ian McDonald and ubiquitous rock sideman Mel Collins. Though the saxes provided a smoky jazz feel, the propulsive rock undercurrent from drummer Ian Wallace and bassist Peter Giles were not to be denied. Wallace was Charlie Watts-ish in his laid-back, unassuming visual presence, but his playing was all content and no filler — equal parts glam-free chops, experience and ability. Former Level 42 guitarist Jakko Jakszyk carried the guitar and lead vocal duties, simultaneously filling the shoes of Crim guitarist Robert Fripp and former Crim vocalist Greg Lake with ease and aplomb.
Set predictably drew almost entirely from KC live and studio material of ’69-’71 vintage. These songs never sounded so good back in the day as they did here. The deep, throaty combined onslaught of Collins’ bari and McDonald’s alto on the opener “A Man, A City” carried a weight and power any metal band would envy, and “Ladies of the Road” swaggered into the room dark and brooding, the dual saxes nasty and visceral. The older material played best here; “Let There Be Light,” from McDonald’s 1999 CD “Driver’s Eyes,” was dirgey and dull, and more recent group composition “Catley’s Ashes” was at best pedestrian.