Sunday, 7 November 2010

Frank Zappa's 70th Birthday LIVE@ The Roundhouse

Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa
Frank Zappa 70th Birthday celebrations
The Roundhouse-Camden
Saturday 6th November

Tonight's show was part of what would be Frank Zappa's 70th birthday celebrations (Zappa Died Dec 4th 1993) and here is day 2 of the 3 day occasion and is the "band" night performed by Zappa's eldest son Dweezil on lead guitar and a band of highly skilled musicians who handle the extremely complicated and challenging music with aplomb as part of the Zappa Plays Zappa ongoing touring line-up which is wowing die hard and new fans alike by bringing Zappa's music to a new generation and performing it flawlessly.

With over 80 albums released in his discography finding material to perform was never going to be an issue and tonight's idea of cherry picking an album to perform in its entirety was a great idea. The 1974 album "Apostrophe" performed tonight was one from Zappa's most accessible and strongest period (early 70s) and after the initial introduction was started straight into "The Gumbo Variations" before starting the "Apostrophe" material with "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" and its follow on song cycle of the wonderfully named "Nanook Rubs It", "St .Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and "Father O'Blivion". Along with the band's own performance we were also treated (to great applause from the crowd) with Frank Zappa himself via old concert footage with his guitar and vocal audio mixed in with the live performers on stage. The idea of mixing the generations and across the veil worked perfectly where other people that have tried this device have failed (see the Elvis show.)

Tonight's show also included special guest from the family and past line ups including 1970-1971 Mothers Of Invention era Jeff Simmons on "Wonderful Wino" and 1981-1988 era bassist Scott Thunes on "Pick Me, I'm Clean". Also in a rare outing was Moon Unit Zappa (eldest daughter) who appeared with her own daughter Matilda for a version of the hit song from 1982 "Valley Girl". One of the past line up from what some would call the "classic" era line up was Ian Underwood who was advertised on the tickets and programme but wasn't anywhere to be seen at the show or earlier Q&A. As of yet there hasn't been an official reason for this although the recently released ZAPPA magazine Mojo special includes new interviews with Underwood who in no uncertain terms mentioned that the "Apostrophe" era material was a bit gimmicky and puerile for his tastes, whether this was taken as a knock and he was sent packing is still unknown at this stage.

Along with the album tracks from the already mentioned "Apostrophe" album included in the set were live staples from Zappa's concerts such as "Montana", "Inca Roads" (both with Franks vocals and guitar solos from 70's on screen) and also "Cruisin' For Burgers", "Baby Snakes" and finishing with guitar duels from BOTH Zappa's in unison with the standout "Muffin Man".

Tonight's show and all the other events of the weekend were filmed as part of SKY Arts channel and will be shown in early December and is worth checking out. Overall this was a triumph for both the Zappa family and ensuring the legacy of one of Rocks most enduring and sometimes misunderstood geniuses.


The Gumbo Variations
"Apostrophe'" ALBUM
Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow
Nanook Rubs It
St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast (with FZ footage)
Father O'Blivion (with FZ footage)
Cosmik Debris (with FZ footage)
Excentrifugal Forz
Apostrophe (’)
Uncle Remus
Inca Roads (with FZ footage)
Dumb All Over (with Scott Thunes & FZ footage)
Montana (with Scott Thunes & FZ footage)
Pick Me, I’m Clean (with Scott Thunes)
Wonderful Wino ( with Jeff Simmons & FZ footage)
Cruisin’ For Burgers
I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth
Baby Snakes
Valley Girl (with Moon & Matilda Zappa)
Muffin Man (with FZ footage)

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