INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Melody Maker JUNE 14, 1975 - by Allan Jones
FRIPP & ENO: FORMAL BEAUTY
A review of the London Palladium performance on June 8, 1975
As long ago as 1972, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno were discussing the possibilities of translating their recorded experiments (finally released as No Pussyfooting) to a live situation. At that time Fripp was still involved with Crimson and Eno with Roxy. Commitments which no doubt contributed to the delay in the manifestation of those plans.
By the end of last year however, both were operating in Fripp's words, as "small, independent, mobile and intelligent units". Fripp, in terminal mood, had disbanded Crimson and all but announced the end of the world, and Eno had, for some time, been pursuing far more adventurous avenues than he had been permitted in Roxy.
Last October, Eno concluded that the only difficulty he and Fripp were likely to encounter would be the confusion their appearance would precipitate. Fripp express a similar concern. One thing an audience should not expect, they emphasised, was a conventional concert.
Their apprehension, on the evidence of their performance last Sunday at the London Palladium, was well-founded. The audience looked confused before they even appeared on stage, and looked even more confused some two hours later when the duo made their final exit leaving a tape playing as the houselights went up and the more determined members of the audience refusing to believe that the concert had actually ended.
They appeared, with no word of acknowledgment to the audience, in complete darkness. The absence of any stage lighting directed one's entire attention upon the music. One was totally immersed in the sounds created by Frlpp's guitar improvisations and their subsequent distortion and manipulation by the endlessly inventive Eno. The music, which was often of great formal beauty, didn't seek to impose a definite identity. There was such variety in the textures created that, depending upon the degree of individual concentration, one could focus on one of any of the levels of sound patterns. One therefore became a participant in the creative process, creating through individual selection individual compositions for oneself, rather than blindly accepting, an already well-defined and regulated musical formula.
But we must not overlook the inherent humour of the situation. Many of those at the concert, judging by their final reaction, did just that. Perhaps they would have felt more satisfied had Fripp burst into 21st Century Schizoid Man as a climax, or had Eno returned for an encore and delighted his following with a few verses of Virginia Plain. What, one wondered, had people expected of such a combination: Hunter-Ronson with brains, or Paul and Barry Ryan with a synthesizer?