The Roundhouse had a complete Frank Zappa (FZ) make-over at the weekend. Celebrating what will be his 70th birthday in December, the venue, adorned with blow-ups of his 60+ album covers and some of his famous sayings, was awash with possibly the coolest crowd of (mostly) over 50s males ever seen in one place. There was album art to play with and Zappa tracks to remix (our efforts, a scrappy dub version of ‘The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet’). Zappa’s Crappa (toilet) was also on display.
Dweezil Zappa’s Zappa plays Zappa (ZpZ), is an extraordinary work of love, appreciation and dedication to his late father’s talent. Playing an incredibly tight set, ZpZ kicked off with The Gumbo Variations from Hot Rats, a track that FZ had never played live, before launching into a complete rendition of the album Apostrophe – a firm favourite among fans.
Integrated into some tracks, were Frank’s live performances, played on a huge screen behind the stage, which worked really well. A couple of Frank’s original band members guested on some numbers and his daughter, Moon-Unit, did her Valley Girls thang.
Huge Zappa fans The Mighty Boosh Band, opened the night with, true to form, a bonkers and anarchic show. Dressed in women’s clothing.and sporting unusual headgear – Julian with a stocking over his head, drummer with a Nicholas Lyndhurst mask on, they were joined by characters Bob Fossil doing his best dancing and Charlie The Hat (with Diva Zappa inside). At times, swigging Baileys from a shoe and riding a child’s bicycle, Noel, in his fetching gingham dress and blond wig led the band chaotically through some of their tracks and Zappa/Beefheart’s ‘Willy The Pimp’. It was all over in a flash unfortunately, but not without ending on the fecal classic ‘I did a sh*t on your mum’
Our enjoyment of ZpZ exceeded expectations. FZ is an acquired taste with the excessive and indulgent guitar noodling getting a bit much sometimes, The musicianship, depth and humour in the songs, however, is just awesome. Dweezil and ZpZ showed they were more than capable of doing them justice – surely turning a whole new generation on to the genius that is Frank Zappa and gaining their own cult following along the way?