I saw Frank many times, even talked to him on one occassion for a little while, transcribed much of his music, played much of it while working on my music degree- just to set up the background.
I knew about 90% of the music played tonight well enough to hum or sing along with it, even the complicated stuff.
I attended shows featuring Flo and Eddy, Dunbar, Napoleon, Steve Vai, Ruth and Ian, George Duke, even Ponty, and others- so I had the original live shows to compare this with, and they are permanently etched in my memory..... as are multiple shows I've seen with John McLaughlin, Captain Beefheart, Trilok Gurtu, and other similar world class musicians.
Since I've changed as well over the years, my attitude towards music and what constitutes good music versus GREAT music has evolved I believe.
I was very enthusiastic about the early Zappa concerts I attended through the mid 70's--- they were fresh, original, and there was a certain innocence and honesty about them, and this remained true through the shows that included Brock, Vai, and Duke, and both Underwoods. Heck, I went out and started marimba lessons after seeing Ruth play----shiiiiiiiiiit!!
But at a certain point- for me it seemed to change, and I did not maintain the enthusiam for the later period of Zappa's work, that featured Bozio-- it seemed-- less musical, and more based on technique and less SOUL. The word "bombastic" comes to mind-- bulldozer, perhaps. Power for the sake of power. Frankly, he looks like he's in PAIN performing, doing something excrutiating. Impressive, but like moving boulders cause he can.
Fortunately, it seemed like 70% of this show was made up of material from the mid 70's and earlier- and I think this is the bulk of Zappa's most musical period.
So, bearing this in mind, I appreciated most of the music performed in Denver that reflected these earlier periods-- and I thought it worked the best, and was most satisfying.
Once Bozio took the stage midway through the show, the show leveled out, and the energy dissapated-- not in spite of the music getting more frantic and louder-- but likely because of it. It got BORING there for a while.
By comparison, I saw Trilok Gurtu twice, play ALONE, with no amplification-- totally mind blowing--- its not how loud or fast you play that generates excitement and energy-- its something else-- its IN THE CRACKS.
I really appreciated the show the most when DYNAMICS were present.
Give me less volume at times PLEASE- for CONTRAST. I want to hear WHISPERS at times. This will make the LOUD PARTS BETTER.
Whenever Brock began singing, it was much more fun, much more melodic, and musical. He truly made this concert WORK-- without him, it would have not even come close to being a good show--- he added LIFE, and a SMILE. BRAVO!!
Who gives a shit how many notes these guys can fit in per second? Not me. It's all in DYNAMICS and MELODY.
The guitar solos mostly left me cold--- as did Zappa's later in his career when he entered his NOODLING period-- guilty of endless GNAT notes, to quote Zappa himself.
I much much more prefer the early solos up to the Roxy period-- after that-YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN. deedledeedledeedle
Burnt Weenie Sandwach solos, Weasles RMF solos-Hot Rats ....AHHHHHHHHH!! TONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You can HEAR the freaking guitar---
I had a lot of trouble distiguishing the guitar many times tonight cause it was all so frigging loud all of the time. I want to hear INDIVIDUAL NOTES.
Dweezil did an outstanding job CLONING his father's styles, but it was not that interesting because, it was just an IMITATION of Frank.
He does not-- despite the WILD ENTHUSIASM of the audience-- have his father's stage presence or charisma-- Frank would just stand MOTIONLESS on stage, and the music coming from his fingertips would command the focused attention of everyone clear to the back rows.
I kept wishing Dweezle would do that, just keep still--- it wasn't like he was jumping around, but he was so casual about playing, that it just seemed like the intense focus I was waiting for never came.
Frank would barely twitch an eyebrow during his solos, and it was totally mesmerizing. I really missed that.
But I suppose if Dweezle did that, he might just be accused of imitating his father....
You can only go so far imitating and playing someone else's music, even if you are capable of copying it NOTE FOR NOTE.
This is not trancendent music. It is playing the music of DEAD COMPOSERS, something which Frank made fun of regularly. It's one thing to use it sparingly in a show, but this show was ENTIRELY (except for the last piece, if I am not mistaken was Dweezle's contribution) and I will say most excellently, a CLONE of Frank's orchestration and performances with a bit of variation- but not much. I am sure the goal was to duplicate an authentic FZ concert- and for this, they were unparalleled.
So, a mixed bag--
I was very grateful to have the opportunity to re-visit a Zappa performance, but it comes with the reservation that
YOU CAN"T GO HOME AGAIN, no matter how nice the home.
The only person I've seen as many times as Zappa, has been McLaughlin-- and he continually evolves. The McLaughlin concerts I've been to, almost without exception, have been mind blowingly TRANCENDENT-- there's a whole different dimension of SOUL happening there--- it's not about notes-- 'cause Vai and Zappa certainly play as many notes as McLaughlin--- its SOMETHING ELSE-- a deeper understanding of the purpose of music, of the history, of something.
I've walked away from nearly every McLaughlin concert (but not every) and felt like I just saw people come from another planet and play for me.
But then, I remember seeing the McLaughlin trio with Dimeola, and Paco, and man.... it was ridiculous--- deedledeeldedeedle YAWNNNNNNNNNN-- even McLaughlin wanders off course...
So, its not how many notes you play--- its HOW you play 'em.....
By the way, Steve play two so-so solos, and once KICK ASS KILLER solo-- holy cow. When he hits the mark, he hits it.
By the way--- TOO LOUD--- loud is okay, but they could have mixed the board 25% less loud, and the show would have been ENORMOUSLY more enjoyable. The volume KILLED much of the details, the tone-- and we were sitting in the sweet spot. Frank was guilty of this most of the time as well-- why why why???? LOUD does not make GOOD.
As for me, I enjoyed the concert very much, and felt like my $60 was well spent (we had GREAT seats too).
To master this catalog-- and these guys played for THREE HOURS--
this is an incredible acheivement, like climbing Mt. Everest....
but you know..... when I hear about people climbing Mt. Everest, I just think..........so fucking what.
so you see my dilemma
Thanks guys a very very enjoyable evening, with some reservation
Enjoyed the show, and I look forward to better things as well.
I am sure most of the people there were totally blown away, and it was exactly their perfect cup of tea, and more power to them-- this is just one man's opinion.