I arrived in Iceland on the day of the concert full of anticipation, to see a very close friend and to witness history being made, I was not disappointed. The band took the stage, the icelandic audience, people of all ages, had a buzz of excitement, and the beauty began.
I had never seen Dweezil play before, he has developed a fantastic style, very reminiscent of his father, extremely competent and inventive, and certainly showing Stevie's influence. The younger members of the band were astounding in the way they accomplished this 'challenging' music, I cannot fault them or single out any one of them - it wouldn't be fair! They all played perfectly and with an enthusiasm and reverence for the task. Something you just don't see these days.
Napolean sang and played sax with love, force and a little bit of cheekiness, dancing and expressing the songs just as he always did, his energy is irrepressable. The early set brought us such challenging gems as 'Inca Roads', 'Cheepnis', a perfect 'Pigmy Twylite' and the ode to Frank's early home in the 'Village of the sun'. I have been hearing them and singing them in my head ever since.
Naturally, in the land of ice and fire, Nanook was greeted with loud cheers, great work Napolean. And Alphonso was perfect, fast and furious, precise and tight.
Then Dweezil said 'We've development these hand signals...' and a chill went down my spine. I always loved the way Frank would conduct the band to produce a spontaneous collage of music where even the band didn't know what was coming. Dweezil, I cannot thank you enough for reproducing that experience, the band was brilliant, they followed your every move, they produced a beauty and a joy that made one want to laugh and cry at the same time.
But this was just the beginning...
Two other important personalities took the stage, two who have such a history with Frank - Terry Bozzio & Steve Vai - and the brilliance of the band just kept on increasing, as did the humour (which does belong in music). Terry was stunning ( as always ) as he told us how 'cute' he was
, how 'dead' he wanted to be, and then, for me, his quintessential Zappa percussive performance with 'City of tiny lights'. Truly magnificent.
I was lucky enough to know that 'Peaches' was going to make an appearance, I couldn't wait. It came upon us like a gift from above, faultless, tight, and with heart.
'Montana' was just what we wanted it to be, musically beguiling, lyrically hilarious, Napolean replacing the word with 'Reykjavik' now and again, the audience responding, we were all sharing this intimate experience with the band, and the band knew it I'm sure. I laughed as Napolean pointed to Stevie whilst singing 'Zomby Woof'. ( He is an alien you know
But Steve was about to blow everyone's mind, I remember Dweezil telling us that Steve was going to give us a great solo, and I could see Steve say 'We hope!' to Dweezil. You are so modest Steve, and a very nice guy. I have followed your solo work, from Flexible onward, I saw you play an amazing concert in Oslo on the 'Ultra Zone' tour, but I think you really outdid yourself this night and I thank you for the experience. And to follow that with fantastic work and communication with Dweezil, duelling and then playing together, producing such personal harmony, showing the connection you have both had since Dweeze was a very young child, that was priceless. It all came through to the audience, the love and respect you have for each other, it was a joy to behold.
In conclusion I will repeat what I said to Napolean, I never thought I'd live to see these songs and that music performed again. You were so brave Dweezil and so right to make this happen, and you accomplished everything you set out to do - you gave us and the new generation the best music of the last forty years - you gave it with extreme competence, with love and honour for your father.
I have to look back to the last time I saw Frank in '88 to find a comparable experience. You are 'really good musicians', but more than that you are all lovely people, and maybe that's the most important thing. I look forward to seeing you again someday.
Take care and my best regards to you all,
Oslo & England.
P.S. Now there is hope for the music of the future.
P.P.S. Forgive me for using 'beauty' so often, but hell, it is the right word
P.P.P.S. Great early morning out in the Reykjavik bars - Joe, Pete & Steve. Good luck in US.