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Surely one of the most exciting, interesting and innovative bands around has to be Stick Men, who are of course Tony Levin (Chapman Stick, voice), Markus Reuter (Touch Guitars® U8 Deluxe, live looping) and Pat Mastelotto (drums, loops, samples). As well as the official live CDs which have been released (‘Panamerica’ is incredible) they are also making available for download a series of bootlegs. These comprise both board and audience recordings, and this is one of the former, which has been made available through Bandcamp as “name your price”. Mixed by front of house engineer Robert Frazza, what you hear is exactly what you would have experienced if you had been there that night. This was the first night of the tour, and this is brought home when the guys completely mess up the beginning of the announced “Horatio” and instead play “Schattenhaft”. They just laugh it off, as do the crowd and then get on with the set. A combination of their own material, plus of course plenty of King Crimson, allows them to spread their wings and just have fun. All the guys have been at the top of the game for many years, and they all know how each other is going to react. Tony joined Crimson back in 1981 for the first time and is still there today and while Pat did not join until 1994 one does wonder just how many gigs they have played together over the years. So, there is a rhythm section who know each other inside out and have some of the most serious skills around, and then at the front there is Markus who not only plays guitar but is moving the sound around, providing effects and electronics. At one point, Masteloto explains the insanely difficult time signature of the song to follow, just in case anyone wants to clap, and just when one thinks it cannot get any harder, he then explains that after those bars the timing is reversed. When they get asked to session on songs which are only in standard 4/4, they must go to sleep! Over the years I have come to really appreciate and enjoy the music of Stick Men, as they take a structure and then move it off into different areas, going wherever they wish as they know that somehow they will always find their way back again. Exciting, vibrant, massively complex, and complicated, this is some of the finest progressive rock out there right now.
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