Posts Tagged ‘zappa plays zappa


Zappa Plays Zappa – Show Review (The Egg 12/16)

Ever since seeing a televised performance a couple of years ago of Dweezil Zappa playing his father Frank’s music, I have been relishing the chance to see this spectacle in person.  Last night at the Egg in Albany, I got that chance, and disappointment was the farthest thing from my mind. 

Dweezil and his incredible ensemble of musicians blew the doors off the theater with the opening number “Gumbo Variations,” a 15-minute instrumental piece from the album “Hot Rats.”  They could have stopped playing after this song and I would have felt I got my money’s worth.  It was so tight, so spot on that it may as well have been Frank and his old cohorts up on stage.  The band then played the entire “Apostrophe” album to perfection, a quite bluesy record with the highlights being the title track, “Uncle Remus,” and “Stink Foot.”  Vocalist Ben Thomas sounded almost identical to Frank Zappa, and Dweezil’s ability to play the complex and amazing guitar licks composed by his father is second to none.  During “Cosmik Debris,” the guitar and vocals were turned over to Frank himself, via a video clip of Frank performing.  His vocals and guitar were supported live by the rest of Dweezil’s band, allowing for a unique experience.  This merging of past and present continued later in the show during portions of “Inca Roads” and “Muffin Man.” 

For Dweezil to have learned all of his father’s music is impressive enough, considering the elder Zappa recorded over 80 albums in his career.  But to take his father’s music on tour, to attempt to recreate his diverse style, sense of humor and intricate compositions really takes courage.  But Dweezil obviously knows what he’s doing, and he surrounded himself with truly gifted musicians.  Scheila Gonzales is an amazing saxophone player, as well as providing marvelous backing vocals throughout the show, and took the lead on the goofy 80’s Zappa hit “Valley Girl” (with a slightly modern treatment as she made references to Twitter and Facebook).  Not only can Ben Thomas sing like Frank, but he also played trumpet and various hand-held percussion instruments.  Bassist Pete Griffin’s fingers were flying during the intense and amazing “RDNZL,” which also featured great work by percussionist Billy Hulting.  Chris Norton shined on “City of Tiny Lights” with his keyboards and vocals, and guitarist Jamie Kime ripped through tunes like “Dinah Moe Hum” and played the part of The Devil during the low-brow humor of “Chrissy Puked Twice (Titties and Beer).”  Joe Travers rounded out the group, pounding the drums competently, although his brief but unnecessary drum solo halfway through the show was not a highlight.

Speaking of highlights, some were “RDNZL,” “Inca Roads,” and the unexpected audience-participation of “Keep it Greasy.”  Before that number, Dweezil invited all female audience members to join the band on stage to dance – about 20 or so ladies of all shapes and sizes did so, shaking their groove things during the sexual overtones of the song.  It was quite amusing.

If I had to find something negative about the show, it would be Dweezil’s stage presence, or lack thereof.  When he wasn’t blazing through a guitar section, he stood motionless, with a facial expression as though he were watching paint dry.  He had as much stage presence as a piece of wood.  But luckily his astounding ability to play Frank’s music note for note more than made up for it.

The band received standing ovations after about half of the songs throughout the show, and the crowd stood and cheered during the break before the encore.  The encore featured the short but awesome “Baby Snakes,” the aforementioned “Chrissy Pukes Twice” and closed with “Muffin Man.” 

Many of the fans were old enough to have seen Frank back in the day, and were joyous to see the songs performed so well again.  Others, like me, were big Frank fans who never got the chance to see the master perform, but I wouldn’t say that seeing Zappa Plays Zappa was “settling.”  Frank would no doubt be beyond proud and impressed with what Dweezil has been doing, and would be thrilled that so many people still love his music so much.  Even the biggest Frank Zappa purist could not deny the talent and precision of Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa.  If you can catch this show, you will not be disappointed.

This Zappa Plays Zappa concert gets 4.5 out of 5 stars!


Zappa plays Zappa – Tonight!

Well, tonight is the night your HiFi reviewers have been salivating for over the past few months, Zappa Plays Zappa will visit our fair city of Albany, NY to play at the oddest looking venue on Earth, The Egg. 

The show has been sold out for over a month and I guess would make it the hottest ticket in town, especially since this concert will feature the album Apostrophe in its entirety (no easy feat I’m sure).

I’m personally curious how well Dweezil will cover St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast and Father O’blivion; so far he has done a rather impressive job of surrounding himself with very capable young musicians in past shows.  Since this tour focuses on celebrating the “would-have-been 70th birthday” of his father I’m also curious to see who Dweezil may have show up for a special cameo’s.  Napoleon Murphy Brock has accompanied him on past tours, but I’m not sure if guys likes of George Duke, Vinny Colaiuta, and Steve Vai will randomly appear on this tour; certainly would be very cool if they do.

Luckily there are no bad seats in The Egg due to it’s unique design, also the acoustics are top rate, so I’m sure that this will be a show to remember.  Check back tomorrow morning for a full review of the show.


Zappa Plays Zappa @ The Egg 12/16/10

Upon taking my first sip of coffee an intern here at HiFi Central burst into my office with a tattered and ripped newspaper clipping claiming the impossible is possible, yes Dweezil Zappa will grace our fair city once again, but this time at the very cozy and intimate setting of The Egg. 

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time I have praised the The Egg for it’s charm and warmth as a venue, and also trounced it’s smarmy underhanded practices at lame ticket sales.  The venue has been around since the late 1970’s and has provided a stage for the more intellectual of the arts and for artists looking for a cozier venue than the classic restored vaudville theaters or the open air ampi-theaters.  For those who enter the gates of the city of Albany, The Egg looks like a giant concrete flying saucer and often gets the initial question “what the hell is that thing”?; but once you have experienced the environment that The Egg provides, you look forward to the next show since it is often very up close and personal with and for both the artist and the spectator.

Fellow HiFi contributor EricStraus and I saw Al DiMeola last January at this venue; the show was magnificent (although shorter than we expected) we felt as if Al DiMeola had invited just his closest friends in for a taste of his catalog; the feeling free, relaxed, and very cozy.

Now Dweezil will grace us with his presence on December 16th and I could not be happier.  I missed his last concert at The Palace (a 1900’s restored vaudeville theater where The Stones played in the 1960’s and Dylan frequently played in the 1970’s), but was unable to attend.  A friend of mine saw Zappa at the Mahaiwe Center For The Performing Arts (Great Barrington, MA) in October and said the show was superb!  So, finally I will get my chance to witness the son-of-Zappa continue his fathers legacy for my own eyes.  A cool thing is that 5 days after this show (December 21st) would have been Frank’s 70th birthday; so it will be a fitting time to see  his legacy that night.  Apparently much of the concert will be focused on playing songs off of 1974’s album “Apostrophe”.

Tickets are a bit steep at $32.50 but considering this is a special show in honor of Zappa’s 70th birthday I think they will be well worth the price.

If you would like to get tickets to this show, click here.  I’m sure they will sell out quickly.

Update as of 11/16/2010 – Zappa Plays Zappa is SOLD OUT!   We got our tickets…hope you got yours!

Dweezil last played The Egg in 2008.

A 12/17 review of this show can be found by clicking the HIFI banner above and scrolling or clicking December 2010 in the Archives on the right hand side of this blog


The Immortality of Genius

Frank Zappa was one of the great musical geniuses of our time, excelling in both quality and quantity of his music. Luckily for those of us who never got a chance to see him perform live, his son Dweezil has in recent years taken up the Zappa mantle and is sharing his father’s gift with old Zappa vets and a new generation of fans alike. “Zappa Plays Zappa” (or ZPZ) has been playing shows for a couple of years, delighting fans with spot-on renditions of a wide range of Frank’s compositions. The band is comprised mainly of younger musicians, but has featured guest performers who toured with the elder Zappa, including Napoleon Murphy Brock, Terry Bozio, Ray White, and Steve Vai.
In short, any fan of Zappa should check out their live album, live DVD, and/or see them in concert. Here is a list of their current tour dates. Let us know what you think!

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