Review: Dweezil’s pop, rock conquer: Zappa plays Zappa
By CHRISTOPHER JOHN TREACY
Published on BostonHerald.com - August 05, 2007
Frank Zappa’s music demands your attention. Try to shove it in the background and it’ll give you a headache - because that’s not where it’s meant to be.
For these reasons, Zappa’s brilliant catalog has been relegated to the esoteric annals of musical geekdom. His take on the human condition is unflinching, insightful and more cleverly comic than anyone doing standup today.
So, who better to carry on Zappa’s cannon of elaborate rock operas than his son Dweezil? As he and his Zappa Plays Zappa troupe proved repeatedly at the Bank of America Pavilion last night, no one is.
No less heroic an effort for being under-attended, Zappa’s Boston gig was a triumphant celebration of work from rock’s most adventuresome composer, known for fusing jazz, funk and prog-rock structures, then rescuing them on the brink from total confusion
Only a top-notch assemblage of talent could carry it off - it’s not as if we’re talking about three-minute pop toe-tappers.
Thankfully, the current ZPZ lineup has no shortage, evident from the opener, “Son of Suzy Creamcheese,” right into the propulsive “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It,” both featuring powerhouse vocals from Berklee alum Sheila Gonzales.
During “Dupree’s Paradise,” she multitasked, first simultaneously playing keyboards and a sax, then two saxes at once.
Jamie Kime’s dutiful ax-wielding, Joe Travers’ drumming, Aaron Arntz’s piano and Pete Griffin’s bass consistently held down the fort.
Enter Ray White’s soulful bellow with “Tiny Lights,” freeing Zappa Jr. up for numerous muscular solos.
White’s an original Zappa player, from 1976 onward. His presence merged past and present, upping the ante well beyond that of an average tribute band.
The deceptively simple-seeming “I’m the Slime” began as a bottom-end-heavy stomp, but soon the eight-piece ensemble was zigzagging around each other.
“Dumb All Over,” a scathingly sarcastic rip on organized religion that’s as hilarious as it is unapologetically offensive, was the first of three tunes to get paired with a video of Frank himself, his original vocal riding perfectly over the well-synced live music; encores of “Cosmik Debris” and “Muffin Man” were the other two.
The video footage was a nice touch, but it wasn’t necessary. Zappa’s spirit lives on in his unparalleled contribution to rock ’n’ roll.