Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zappa Plays Zappa: the review

That's the picture quality you get with a Sony Ericsson k800i from the 12th row ;)

Zappa Plays Zappa, Cirkus, Stockholm June 8, 2009:

Apostrophe ('): A blazing show opener that sets the standard for the evening. Very much energy. Lotsa guitar and fuzz bass! Arrangement close to the original. Drummer Joe Travers even copies Jim Gordon's short drum solo note for note.

Montana: Time for new lead vocalist ben Thomas to show up. Dweezil has the good taste to include a guitar solo in this song just like Frank would do during the 1973 and 74 tours. Keyboard player Scheila Gonzalez sings the "I'm plucking the ol' dental floss..." interlude and she plays some keys meanwhile. That gal' sure can play!

Zomby Woof: Dweezil has a good sense for what the audience wants to hear. Ben Thomas is doing really OK here. This guy isn't too bad!

Village Of The Sun: Roxy & Elsewhere version. Scheila does the lead vocals.

Echidna's Arf/Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?: Done in the Roxy style with drum solo and kazoo ending.

Cosmik Debris: Good to hear this blues based song after all that instrumental trickery. Done the classic way a' la Dub Room DVD.

The Black Page drum solo: I was a little suprised here. Travers is good but no Bozzio (who is?) Still he dares to try this one out. And he does it pretty well.

Black Page # 2: The connoisseures expected this one to follow. For the non-connoisseures Dweezil tells the story accompanied by the disco vamp a’ la Frank’s In New York album.

Bamboozled By Love: Almost in the slow blues workout arrangement that Frank used to do in the late 70’s. Ben Thomas takes the lead vocals and he handles it great. Then all of a sudden the band changes into double tempo and we get the 1984 solo vamp which is actually the chords to Yes’ hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart. Spectacular but not too exciting musically. And then back to original tempo again, thank you.

King Kong: The monster song (the long instrumental of the show, just like Frank used to do). Arrangement a’ la Make A Jazz Noise Here, with fast tempo and where the theme is divided on several instruments. Now is the time for some experimenting and interacting with the audience. Dweezil conducts the audience with hand signals. Scheila plays a nice sax solo over a familiar chord pattern which I soon identify as the chords during the solo section of Fifty-fifty (Over-nite Sensation).

Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
: Since vocalist Ben Thomas has been involved in the staging of Joe’s Garage recently I guessed that Dweezil would include a couple of songs from that particular album. And here they come. Great to hear this one without those digital drums of the 80’s ;-)

Outside Now: Ben is absolutely fantastic on this one. Great vocals. Some mean guitar from Dweezil plus those low marimba notes rather loud in the mix just like on Joe’s Garage. Wonderful!

The Purple Lagoon: Hmm, this was a pleasant surprise.

Inca Roads: This is the tune that the new lead singer Ben Thomas sang at the audition this spring. The hardest task for Ben during this concert. He did OK though.

More Trouble Every Day: Starting like on the KCET/A Token Of His Extreme footage, with hammering on one chord. When the band changes to the A Token Of My Extreme outro we know that the ordinary set is over.

Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: The first encore. Some persons in the audience may have wanted to hear the entire Yellow Snow suite but we only get the first part and then the band goes into

Peaches En Regalia: This may not be the song that I was most eager to hear, but as soon as the first bars are played I realize it’s a great piece to hear live with this band. Great to hear the theme being divided on so many instruments and all those harmonies. A lovely arrangement!

Willie The Pimp: Closer to the Hot Rats version than Frank used to do live in the 80’s. Dweezil almost duplicates some of Frank’s guitar licks between the song verses. Yet another song that fits vocalist Ben Thomas very well.

Bobby Brown: The last encore is an experiment with a song that the ZPZ band never has played before. Dweezil’s idea is to let the audience do the vocals to the band’s accompaniment. Everybody is standing up and it feels a little weird to hear 1600 persons singing about tower of power and golden showers. Maybe this works out so fine because the Swedes love their “allsång” tradition so much.

Summary: Although it can not beat the first line up of ZPZ that I saw when stars as Napoleon Murphy Brock, Terry Bozzio and Steve Vai shared the same stage, this is a great show! Dweezil has grown as a stage personality. He knows how to handle howlers that shout “Play Fuck the Swedes!”. He picks the songs that many fans like to hear. His guitar playing is really interesting. He plays a mix of his own style and the way Frank used to sound. The band really rocks and can play those tricky songs as well. I remember the doubts many fans (and myself) had just before the first Zappa Plays Zappa tour. This is the 3rd world tour and Dweezil still amazes the audience with his own versions of his father’s songs.

/Siggy, Radio Dupree

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