The show started with almost 20 minutes of video footage from a rarely seen TV special shot of Frank's band in about 1973. I've seen lots of Zappa video bootlegs, but I've never seen this clip before. It was my personal favorite ensemble: Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Bruce and Tom Fowler, Ruth Underwood, and the two drummers, Ralph Humphreys and Chester Thompson. The clip showed them getting ready to start the show, and then doing the complete version of Montana, followed by Frank leading that band in an improv moment, followed by another classic of the period (Forgive me, but I forget the name of the tune... but it's in 5/4... like THAT narrows it down... I think it might be Alien Oriface).
At the end of this segment, Dweezil and the band came on and began the show. The first tune was (I suspect) a Dweezil tune.
In no particular order... they played these songs, (and I'm sure I've forgotten some).
Stink Foot, King Kong, the whole Don't Eat The Yellow Snow suite, Peaches, Village Of The Sun, Echidnas Arf, Inca Roads, Pound For A Brown, The Black Page versions 1 and 2, Trouble Every Day, Token Of My Extreme, Growing A Chin, I'm So Cute, Montana. I think that's it!
Set one featured the vocals of the drummer Joe Travers. Watching him play and sing at the same time was pretty incredible. This guy was unreal. The female saxophonist (or saxist and I like to call her), did double duty playing sax, keys and singing. Her vocal range was very big, and she also won brownie points for being able to play the sax and keyboard simultaneously!
The keyboard player was a young hot kid, who also doubled on trumpet.
The bass player has the best name in show business... Pete Griffin!! He was a monster.
The other guitarist (sorry, I forget his name) had chops up the grand wazoo too!
There was also a percussionist, and of course, his parts were outrageously hard to pull off.
At the start of the second half, Terry Bozzio came out and played, and was, to put it extremely mildy, LIFE ALTERING! The guy really is the most brilliant drummer I've ever seen. At 56 years old, it's unbelieveable to see this guy play. During Pound For A Brown, (which is in a very fast 7/8 feel) he got so complex in his fills that it would often take upwards of 4 bars before I would have any idea how he'd ever land again on the ONE. It never got boring, and he never ran out of stuff to play. (And wood from his sticks was flying all over the place. It was really exciting to watch him play.)
A highlight for me (being such a massive Bozzio fanatic) was hearing them do Punkies Whips. I never saw that song coming.
Then, as Dweezil put it, since Terry had just used up all of his remaining energy on the first few songs, it was time for him to do The Black Page! They did it the original way, with Terry, the other drummer, and the percussionist all playing the Black Page unaccompanied. It morphed into the more modern version where the rhythmic figures are given a melody with which young people can sing along and dance!!
Then, when you thought if anything could be better than this, you'd turn into goo - Steve Vai came out!! This is when they started slamming us with complex note-fests like Achidnas Arf. Steve also sang/spoke lead on Montana. He and Dweezil did some pretty inspired guitar dueling, which was actually very musical. It was great being so close to the stage, to see how they all interracted with each other.
For whatever reasons, there was an 11pm curfew, so with 20 minutes left, Dweezil announced that they'd have to start crunching stuff together to get the show done on time. This is when Trouble Every Day began, which had solos by pretty much everybody on stage, including a Bozzio drum solo, followed by a Pat Travers drum solo. Both were great of course, but it was fun watching Terry when Pat was doing his solo. He was totally grooving on Pat's solo, which was really encouraging. It would be like watching "god" take the solo of a life time and then having him pass the lead off to you. Good luck!!
So that was it. I got a T-shirt and a really lousy $5 program, but otherwise, this was a truly mind altering experience.
I'm hoping there will be a tour document: a CD or DVD to commemorate this tour. Other than hearing Frank and his bands play this music originally, I've never heard this music played better before. The mix from the PA was awesome. Loud, but clear.
In conclusion... all of this music was written by one man. Frank truly was the most astoundingly brilliant composer I've ever heard. The world is not the same without him, but thankfully there are a few extremely proficient musicians who continue to revere him by performing his music on stage.