I was not lucky enough to have seen the legend that was Frank Zappa play live, but I have now seen his son Dweezil play two of Frank’s greatest album’s live. The first time was for ‘Apostrophe’ back in 2011 and nearing the end of 2019 I am delighted to say that I saw Dweezil and his band perform the whole of Frank’s 1969 album ‘Hot Rats’. That album is perhaps the one that really established Frank Zappa as an iconic major talent. It was dedicated to Dweezil, who was only a few weeks old when the original album was released. It was a perfect reproduction of the record, although interestingly the band opened with “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” from the aforementioned ‘Apostrophe’, that has always been one of my favourite Zappa songs. Then it was the business of ‘Hot Rats’ in its entirety, how groundbreaking must that album have sounded when it was released in 1969. It still sounds pretty fresh today with its “out there” jazz, prog, blues, weird mix. Every one of the six ‘Hot Rats’ tracks was superbly played, my personal highlights were “Peaches En Regalia”, “Willie The Pimp” (which originally featured a Captain Beefheart vocal) and “It Must Be A Camel”. The original album was just under 45 minutes in length, so obviously there was going to be more, and there was plenty more when the band returned to the stage after a short interval.
The second part of the show consisted of twenty or more tunes by my reckoning. Dweezil has put together a supremely talented and incredibly powerful band, which he referred to as his ‘Rockin’ Teenage Combo’. I don’t know the band members names but special mentions must go to the insanely talented saxophonist and a vocalist who seemed to be able to sing in any style he needed to, his Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson piece was something majestic to behold. There were many, many highlights in the second set, but for me “200 Motels/ Bogus Pomp”, “I’m A Beautiful Guy” and ” Who Needs The Peace Corps?” were real standouts. The band revived what in essence was an outtake in its original form, although clearly, it mutated into a few future Frank Zappa tunes. That track was magnificently titled “Twinkle Tits”. The magic word for tonight, chosen by the band from towns near to Leeds on a map in their tour bus was……. Scunthorpe. They tried, and succeeded, on many occasions to incorporate Scunthorpe into a song and even had the audience singing one of those Scunthorpe variations. Surprisingly, for me at least, was a barnstorming cover of the Knack’s 1979 US number-one single “My Sharona”. This was apparently a song that Frank Zappa liked to play. Some might say that this is just a tribute band, and in some ways, they would be correct, but believe me, Dweezil and his band are so much more than that. If you haven’t seen Dweezil plays his father’s songs live yet then take the first opportunity that you get! This was one of the best shows that I have seen this year!
As a footnote I was speaking to someone on the train on the way home who informed me that Dweezil is not his birth name, he was born Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa. It was also great to spend an evening with my good friend Andy Golborne and to catch up with another great mate, Adrian Caines.
All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me on my cheap Chinese android phone.The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.
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