I brought my 15-year-old nephew along to this show; he’s proving to be a bit of a multi-instrumentalist so I thought ZPZ would be the ideal showcase to which he could aspire, and have been feeding him selections of Frank’s back-catalogue over the past few weeks. He was massively impressed that a group could consist of such multi-talented individuals, and insists he hung on every moment of the performance, sensing he was in the presence of genius.
From a personal perspective, my favourite “Gumbo Variations” began the concert, so was concerned that all else would be diminishment: I needn’t have worried. Picking out highlights, the magnificent “Cosmik Debris” bluesed its way into a glorious extended sequence, and once the “Apostrophe” album was done, “Inca Roads” crashed onto us like an Andean avalanche! “Fifty-Fifty” also benefitted from extra material (not to mention a singular guest vocal appearance), and who could fail to love “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” containing as it did astonishingly fluid, seamless solos from such a lovely bunch of musicians? And I think that was a casing point: the enjoyment, enthusiasm and palpable friendliness of the band spilled out into the audience such that, by the end of the evening, there wasn’t one person who wasn’t on their feet applauding with rapture at the spectacle they had witnessed. Well done to Dweezil and the band – you should all feel justly proud!
I hadn’t intended to pick out any one of the band for particular praise as to do so might cast a shade on others, whereas it is true to say that everyone shone brightly. But I must add a word of congratulations to Ben Thomas whose vocal performance was immense. For someone to perform lyrics as idiosyncratic as Frank’s and to carry it off with such conviction was nothing short of miraculous. He brought wit and pantomime to a show which already had everything!
One last comment: we loved the video jamming with Frank, which was treated with due taste and reverence. The image of him playing “Muffin Man” along with you guys will live in our memories for a long time to come.