Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Dweezil is not Frank. I had to keep reminding my self of this, somewhat unnecessarily, as Dweezil and his hot little combo trawled through the FZ songbook, choosing some old favourites and some more obscure songs, and inevitably leaving out stuff I’d love to hear. A show billing itself as “50 Years Of Frank Zappa” with nothing from Hot Rats or Ruben and The Jets? But there was plenty to like, from the opening Zomby Woof to the last encore Florentine Pogen. Dweezil whipped it out on Watermelon In Easter Hay, Inca Roads was immaculate and it was delightful to hear Let Me Take You To The Beach from Studio Tan, the only nod to doo-wop in the whole show.
The band, as I said, are exceptional. Basically a six piece with guest Australian trumpeter/vocalist Kendal Cuneo, whose cameo I’m So Cute brought the house down. Two other women up front, Scheila Gonzalez on vocals, keyboards and flute and saxophone, and vocalist Cian Coey, both fantastic. The sound mix from where I was sitting (front row of the balcony) was such that I could hardly hear keyboard player Chris Newton, even on keyboard-prominent songs like Sofa. Bassist Kurt Morgan’s sound was muddy and buried in the mix, which was overwhelmed by Ryan Brown’s drums. This guy is what musicians would call a monster, he’s all over the place, in the Terry Bozzio mode of favoured Zappa drummers, and the sound mixer obviously liked him or was related to him as all I heard most of the night was snare drum and toms, lots, on every song. I longed for a simple rock’n roll groove a la Jimmy Carl Black.
And yeah, Dweezil. He’s an excellent guitarist, and he plays all the little quick ones and more, and you’ve got to admire him for taking his Dad’s wonderful music on the road, despite the well chronicled family hassles. As a soloist – well, he’s not Frank. Sometimes I thought I could be listening to any 80s American rock band, which of course is the music that Dweezil grew up listening to on the radio.
I’ve never seen so many grey ponytails in one place in my life. As we queued up for a wee at half-time a woman came out of the Ladies and said in a delighted voice “how nice to see the line for the Gents is longer for once”. Most of the people around me knew every word of the songs, even more than me.
It made me think..
It’s not very often you can hear a three hour concert of music by one of the great American 20th century composers