Once I entered the Commodore at around 7:30pm, there was enough time to check out the merch booth before finding a good spot up front. They had the same CD titles that Z forumer TwentySmallCigars listed for the Calgary show and a few other decent shirts, as well as a poster and hoodie. But the only item I was interested in was the R&E album cover t-shirt which I bought for $40 - a little pricey but what the fuck.
Several minutes after positioning myself around what would’ve been 3rd row centre, if it had been a reserved seated show, which it was not, ZPZ opened with the quaintly deep Sleep Dirt album cut, Filthy Habits that featured the propelling drive of Ben Thomas & Sheila Gonzalez on horns (trombone & alto sax), coupled with absolute thunder-drumming from newcomer Ryan Brown. They then launched into the R&E album in its entirety, which of course was the theme of this particular tour because of its 40th Anniversary this year. During Dummy Up, Scheila threw on some shades and walked around the stage flaunting what appeared to be an unfurled mock high school diploma, while Ben named dropped our city in the dialogue (something he also did throughout the set, including the Commodore, singing, “What‘s New In Commodore?” in What‘s New In Baltimore?). The audience participation section of Be-Bop Tango was unique for a couple of reasons. The first being that who I assume was a roadie, came out dressed up as Andy Kaufman’s alter-ego, Tony Clifton, and started insulting the band and audience. Regardless, Dweezil asked him if he knew how to dance. And with expected disdain, he said that he could but wasn’t going to and that he needed, “…this gig like a shotgun blast to the face!” ZPZ then coaxed him into dancing by playing Zappaesque rhythms that it forced him into dancing like a nut along to those rhythms to the point where he eventually took off his outfit and revealed himself as a Zappa fan, complete with t-shirt! Secondly, one of the three chicks he brought up on stage was “in her own world” (probably high as a kite) and wasn’t paying attention to the assignment that Dweezil bestowed her, where she was supposed to dance like a “squirrel” but instead was prancing around and talking to herself so much, that she had to be escorted off the stage. She was referred to as the “squirrel” from this point forward during other on stage banter! And lastly, the other male invited up, who looked like a metalhead, somehow induced ZPZ to play a few bars of the main riff to Enter Sandman by Metallica! Funny shit! Scheila sang lead on Teenage Prostitute, complete with miniature Viking helmet! Teenage Wind was probably the most entertaining song of the night to sing-along too - though more fans sang along to Montana & Cosmik Debris.
Ben again sang lead on most the tunes and his vocals have developed ten fold since he joined the band in 2009. So much so, that he now has a more soulful, bluesier delivery than before, not to mention, that he’s far more animated than he used to be as well. He a great fit and addition to ZPZ. Ryan’s thunder-drumming, as I refer to it, was just that. He could seriously give Terry Bozzio competition in the energy level dept. It was like his snare and the rest of his kit were going to be broken into a thousand pieces at any moment but they never were! This style complemented several FZ tunes, especially The Black Page #1 & #2 & Broken Hearts Are For Assholes, etc. But to be honest, it fell flat on the more delicate tracks like What’s New In Baltimore? & The Torture Never Stops, despite toning it down a bit, for obvious reasons.
A little over 13 months ago was the last time ZPZ played Vancouver, British Columbia. And that was long enough of a wait for me! As far as I’m concerned, last night’s 2 hour and 45 minute extravaganza was the best non-alumni show ZPZ have played and I’ve seen them ALL 6 times they‘ve played here. So I can’t wait until the return!
The Commodore holds about 1,000 and was a virtual sell-out in 2012. Last night, it looked like it was about same.
Roxy & Elsewhere in its entirety:
Penguin In Bondage
Village Of The Sun
Echidna's Arf (Of You)
Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?
Son of Orange County
More Trouble Every Day
Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church) w/ snippet of Metallica’s Enter Sandman / Entertainment Tonight Theme
The Black Page #1
The Black Page #2 (w/ ‘81, ‘82 & ‘88 tour improv sections / bass lines)
What's New In Baltimore?
Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
The Torture Never Stops
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow