By Kenny McMurtrie
November 19, 2011
Finally. A gig worthy of the term ‘muso’, to the extent that you could have paid a three figure sum to get in early and witness the soundcheck (and probably have a bit of banter with Dweezil and the band). The maintenance of an ongoing musical legacy probably generates profits greater than that of some small nations, and t-shirts at £20 and proper shirts for £55 go a long way to keeping the family business in the black.
Musically though there’s no room for cynicism tonight as the players are all on excellent form, superbly executing both their collective and solo parts (stand outs being the drum, bass and melodica solos) as they showcase the entire 1974 Apostrophe(‘) album. Zappa senior makes a few appearances through the night too as this is a multi-media event incorporating expertly edited live footage from the Seventies; occurrences that are greeted by the sell-out crowd with the delight of worshippers witnessing the revealing of a saint (much like that seen when Eric Idle turns up on-screen as God in Spamalot). Then again if it’s good enough for Elvis…
Following the album material’s end, the set goes on to contain such great works as ‘What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?’, ‘I’m The Slime’, ‘Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?’ and closes out with a much demanded encore that includes ‘Dancing Fool’ and ‘Muffin Man’. With such a large body of work to choose from there is no way to please everyone (save for playing for 24 hours straight maybe) and the more populist nature of the bulk of the set is very much a reflection of that, but you’d hardly say that anyone looked disappointed by night’s end, least of all the band.
Clearly as cover bands go this is a rather unusual one. Its not like The Australian Pink Floyd rely on an ex-pat junior Gilmour or Waters for their authenticity of sound and popularity, but then for that matter if a Lennon offspring started touring Plastic Ono Band would the same crowds flock to see the shows? Highly unlikely. What was produced tonight then is more organic. Musicians at least as good as those involved in the original recordings and with the full cooperation of the great man’s estate, not just slavishly reproducing the works but imbuing them with new life as would have been the case if Frank himself was still treading the boards and pushing the envelope.
For Julia Stryj’s photos from the night, go here.