INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Vibraciones JUNE 1975 - by Juan Jose Abad
FRIPP & ENO: PREMIERE IN MADRID
After Jack Bruce's band, Spain is witness to another rock exclusive: Fripp & Eno, whose live adventure begin here. Although to claim that it is "live" is a risky proposition.
Behind the stage are familiar screen projections of colourful spots resembling blood clots. The audience enters the venue in darkness surrounded by the usual space music: on stage, to the right, the stool which we know is for Fripp; to the left are Eno's electronics gadgets (covered by gilding towels) and the machine which plays the master-tape over which they will work.
Discreetly occupying their seats, those present hardly noticed when the tape was switched from the ambient music to the beginning of the concert. Both silhouettes are recognisable and their apparitions appear, dream-like, in the gloom of the stage. Their presence is subtle, barely illuminated by two intersecting spotlights (red for Eno and green for Fripp).
Are We Trendy?
Let's ask ourselves that. Interest in both had subsided after half an hour, when, in the lobby, I came across five or six kids who asked me: "Have they started already?" "Yes, they've been playing for half an hour, Fripp on guitar and Eno on synthesizers." The kids didn't even come in, they stayed in the lobby.
One could say that what Fripp and Eno are offering is a vulgar light-show. The projections are a shameless imitation of what we saw during Iron Butterfly's concert as they performed In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. As for the music, the truth is that I didn't expect them to reproduce the LP No Pussyfooting with overwhelming exactitude. And that's about all.
For those who don't know much about this collaboration between the Crimson King and the ex-Roxy Music dandy, I'll offer this opinion: they're not one or the other, but they haven't invented anything original either. The ambience created by Fripp's late group was more suggestive than that achieved with Eno. And wasn't Eno more well-known for his cheeky image with Roxy Music? Sure! That's why I can't begin to fathom how these two disparate talents, who had difficulty communicating with each other, could expect to communicate anything to the audience other than chaos.
The Exhibited Discretion
Why did they wish to present themselves like that? You could hardly see them. They appeared and disappeared, no dazzling exposure offered. During the performance of their ambient compositions, the background screen repeated the spots and one scene of horses pulled along by reins, blurred in a mist of colors. What were they doing? Was it an attempt to convey a logical relationship between sound and image or were they limiting themselves, remaining trapped within the whole presentation? "Maybe they'll rise above it", was one point that came to mind. In Madrid, paradise is still out of reach. In the end we were all disappointed.
The audience, who was never absolutely quiet during performance (some in the crowd booed shamelessly), ask, nevertheless, for more. Fripp & Eno then repeated Side A of No Pussyfooting - the projections were also the same. After they left the stage, the thing continued playing for another fifteen minutes...
Unfortunately, for the moment, Fripp & Eno have nothing outstanding, daring, innovative and/or experimental to offer. At least that's what we concluded. To tell you the truth, the only detail which delighted me was when the end of one of their interpretations coincided with the end of the projected film. On the screen appeared a scratched title which read "sound end". It wasn't much but...
Leaving the theatre, Robert Fripp, with a huge carry-bag and guitar in hand and walking quickly through intellectual Madrid (close to El Prado, El Ateneo, Plaza de Santa Ana and Teatro Nacional Español) is asked the question: "What did you think of the audience reaction?" "It was disconcerting. It wasn't bad, but I didn't think we understood each other..." Exactly, the musicians and audience didn't understand one another. Comments in general reflected that it was a weird experience. Some even declared it a hoax. Perhaps that's better than showing disdain when hoping for something different.