Zappa Plays Zappa - Tour de Frank
7.26.07 Concert Review
By JAMES MCCUEN, WCBE Listener & Member
Published on Prairie Public.Org - July 28, 2007
Fifteen Frankless years have passed by. The efficient composing machine "whipped the floss" in 1993. His voluminous catalogue of music seemed frozen in time. Zappa fans could now only realize his pieces via listening devices, and live shows existed only in the imagination of the imaginer. However, Frankaphiles from all over Ohio got to participate in an evocation of the man, his music, and the madness that is Frank Zappa.
Zappa Plays Zappa, or the Tour de Frank, is proof that the Zappa pedigree is alive, well, and productive. The band is led by Frank's eldest son Dweezil, an accomplished guitarist in his own right. The players are all young talents who exist in relative obscurity, but who prove their mettle by mastery of Zappa's difficult and precisely composed material. And to add veteran authenticity, former FZ bandmate Ray White participates with guest musician status.
Early in the performance came Brown Shoes Don't Make It. The mini-quasi-rock-opera sounded note for note identical to the original 1967 recording, yet with a polished musicianship that the early Mothers of Invention would be jealous of. This trend continued into the darkness of night, preparing the audience for the next step of Zappafication. The low budget light show behind the band faded, and vintage images of Frank himself began to glow on the screen. But it wasn't as if they were just pumping out old footage. Portions of songs were interlaced with Franks vocals, and his guitar solos. Given Dweezil's dedication to purely recreating Frank's sound, it was often difficult to discern which Zappa was performing at any given time.
The band's skill provided a seamless transition between archived sounds, and the true live experience. Ray White's screaming soulful vocals on Illinois Enema Bandit precipitated a feeling among the audience that this was indeed an authentic Frank Zappa show. Song after song the band managed to both reproduce, and revitalize all things Frank. After a lengthy encore, the audience was left in a state euphoria only Zappa could produce, as if we were all local teenagers hanging out at Joe's Garage...