Though the first two paragraphs may turn you off, read the rest of it before you flame. This is my opinion only and I have it for a reason and from previous extensive experience.
The bands were definitely in the wrong order and ZPZ should have had AT LEAST EQUAL BILLING AND TIME IF NOT THE HEADLINER SPOT. I don't know who the promoter is but a good thorough bitch slapping is in order in my most humble opinion.
Moody Theater is a really cool venue that fell on it's face on the 12th. No light show, failed equipment, and an obsession with Return to Forever while ignoring the band that should have headlined, ZPZ. Most annoying but not surprising for Austin. At least it wasn't at Austin Music Hall which has to have the worst sound on the planet, especially since the rebuilding of the place. As a side note the guys that designed Austin Music Hall should be drawn and quartered in a highly publicized televised event. Don't ever go there.
Including the show on 9/14/11 I have seen ZPZ a total of 6 times. The musicians are fantastic and have been every time. I mean this is some of the most difficult music in the world and it is an incredible accomplishment to even attempt it with any degree of success.
The first time I saw them was when Dweezil had Napoleon Murphy Brock, Terry Bozio, and Steve Vai with him. Totally blew me away. Next couple of times Ray White was there, outstanding!
Scheila Gonzalez, Pete Griffin, Billy Hulting, Jamie Kime, Ben Thomas, Joe Travers, Chris Norton, well, it goes without saying these folks are a cut above most anybody to say the least, I mean after all they are playing Zappa's music with Dweezil Zappa. What could possibly say more about their musical accomplishments? Precise, soul stirring, exciting and simply amazing doesn't really cover it but I don't know what else to say.
If you haven't already you can read about the players from Dweezil's point of view here:http://www.zappaplayszappa.com/players.html
So almost at the onset of the concert it sorta appeared that something was askew. The guys didn't seem too terribly happy like they normally do. Part of that could have been the empty seats that were not filled until well into the concert due to what I can only term ignorant jazz snobs waiting for RTFIV.
In my opinion it was annoying and a disgrace that in a city that claims to be the “music capital of the world” that the ignorance of the crowd was just nauseating. Don't get me wrong there were a large number of vocal and passionate Zappa and ZPZ fans there and we were having a great time. However there were also the Jazz snobs that just don't get it. They apparently do not get the jazz undertones or for that matter presence that is there in the ZPZ music. Ignorance in listening I guess would be the proper term for it
Austin has trouble pulling in major concerts in no small part because of this sanctimonious attitude. Really too bad that we miss some really good stuff because of that.
Frank said it best a long time ago. You either get it or you don't. And one of my favorite statements from Frank was “Some people wouldn't know good music if it came up and bit them on the ass”. A perfect statement.
As things progressed the band seemed to be sort of distant which is totally atypical of these guys. Then, it really became apparent that something was wrong when they played 50/50 with no vocal. I suspect that something happened to Ben's voice. While he was able to do very nice vocals on some stuff and nailed Franks voice it just seemed that he was a little uncomfortable. Unfortunate since I KNOW how good this guy is from seeing him before. Plays a really mean trumpet also. Something was askew.
Eric Johnson who is apparently Dweezil's hero, came out and played a song with the band. I like Eric OK but honestly I think Dweezil is a LOT better and I like Dweezils style much more than Eric's as Dweezil reaches inside of you and touches you on many levels. Have seen Eric several times and it always left me flat, as in all technique and not much feeling or soul.
When Chick Corea came out to play with Dweezil it was pretty good. I like Return to Forever and always have and of course that says that I like Chick, Lenny and the amazing Stanley Clark with the 6 foot fingers. Chick seems to be a little full of himself and I guess he has earned that right, but it just sorta left me flat.
All in all the ZPZ part of the show was really great in spite of something not being quite right. The reason I am saying all this is because my Ex-Wife was with me. The one person on this planet that I really really want to walk out of the show with her jaw on the ground. She has always asked me what the big deal is and after finally getting her to go after all these years (we were married for 36 years) it was kind of a drag that they were off. I went to see them the next night in Grand Prairie and will elaborate on that in the next section on the 9/14/11 part of the tour.
Return to Forever has been one of those bands that always really impressed me. I thoroughly enjoy the music and in particular the Romantic Warrior album which I still listen to regularly.
If you are not musically inclined and not a player in at least one part of your life it is difficult to fully grasp what these guys play.
The current lineup for the IV version of this band is, Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Frank Gamble.
These guys are great. I mean they are really really talented musicians and will leave with a smile on your face.
Jean-Luc played with Frank Zappa at one time so that pretty much sums that up.
Stanley Clark is like nobody else you have ever seen playing a bass. I mean really just unbelievable what this guy does with those incredible long talented fingers.
Overall the RTFIV part of the concert was very pleasant and enjoyable. Stanleys stuff was as always amazing, and leaves you in awe, I mean what else can you say. Just awesome.
They played Romantic Warrior and the Al DiMieola guitar stuff was covered by Jean-Luc and Frank in a very pleasant way. Having said that, it left me a little flat.
That sound, the muted riffs, the overall tone that I loved so much on the album was obviously missing and sadly, so was the overall feel.
I guess the concert overall was sort of a let down due mainly to the Austin folks and the way the concert was billed and handled by the Moody folks.
I live in Austin so I can say that if I want. If you are into disgusting country music, you can find that everywhere in Austin. It's a shame that this place has catered to that considering places like Armadillo World and the past that was much more to my liking.
There are still some really good rock and blues bands here like Malford Milligan, W.C. Clark and TheEightySixed and sometimes there seems to be an abundance but it comes in spurts. BTW ZPZ's Jamie Kime used to play with Malford from what I understand.
Hope this helped somebody somewhere. If not, well sorry.
I suggest you read the review I did for the Grand Prairie show before you flame or anything. Maybe it will give you a better overall perspective. I'll get that done tonight.
I will say that I wish I could have made the Houston show and the Telluride Blues & Brews Fest but alas it was a money thing and I can't. I will try to make another show with just ZPZ before this tour ends. They are always worth the time.