Here's my take on it: It was a great show. The performance got stronger as the night went along and (maybe I'm projecting here) also as I think people accepted the fact that Frank Zappa was not going to be magically appearing on the stage and appreciated the show for what it was: great musicians playing great, fun music with incredible skill. You aren't going to get the same kind of humor, the caustic wit, political satire, and the incredible power of Frank's personality from this show and that's disappointing even though it's an absurd expectation.
The show starts with some video footage of Frank and the band from the early 1970's. Then Dweezil, Napoleon Murphy Brock and the new musicians Dweezil brought on board came out and played for about an hour. Songs I remember them playing include: Floretine Pogen, The Idiot Bastard Son, King Kong, Inca Roads, Don't Eat the Yellow Snow, St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast.
Then Terry Bozzio came out and Napoleon Murphy Brock and the other drummer (sorry I don't know his name) took a break. I thought Terry re-energized the show when he came out. He started with I'm So Cute (Dweezil's level was a little too low on that one), then Trying to Grow a Chin, then Napoleon Murphy Brock came back out and the band performed City of Tiny Lights with Napoleon and Terry which was really good. Somewhere in there they also played Punky Whips which provided the only PG-13 moment in a show that otherwise Tipper Gore would probably have had no problem taking her kids to circa 1985.
Next, Steve Vai came out and the other drummer came back and the band performed The Black Page which was cool. Terry took a break for awhile, but Steve Vai kept the energy level high. They played an awesome version of Montana (I thought that was the highlight), Village of the Sun and before the encore played Zomby Woof. Dweezil also played a guitar piece (sorry I didn't recognize it, but it was very good) along with Frank up on a video screen. The encore (which they didn't have time to leave stage for) was a version of More Trouble Everyday that sounded like the one on The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life. Dweezil, Napoleon, Steve and Terry and the rest of the band all performed this together and it was excellent.
They played right up to curfew (11PM at Meadowbrook). I think could have sat there and listened to them play for another day. The only mild criticism I have is that I think the show could have benefited from having Napoleon, Steve and Terry on the stage together more along with Dweezil and the other musicians. There seemed to be a rule about only having two members of Frank's bands on stage together at the same time until the very end of the show. I understand the idea of highlighting the new musicians and the desire to see a new generation of musicians playing Frank's music and a new generation of younger fans getting into Frank's music. But there's a certain intangible showmanship (for lack of a better word) quality that those younger musicians seemed to lack which probably involved being professionally socialized in Frank's bands. They could play all the notes with skill, but something was missing. Put the old guys on stage together more with the new musicians, and I think those intangibles are more likely to rub off on them. And the better the performance, I think the more likely it is to connect with fans of any age.
At any rate, it is a fantastic show and if you live in a city on the tour schedule (http://www.zappa.com/cheezoid/whatsnew/zpz /), I highly recommend going. I think Dweezil is doing a great thing by putting it on and doing such a good job with it. I'd really like to see an all day festival of music like this. Get a bunch of the Zappa alum bands together (like Project Object and Jimmy Carl Black), pick some young musicians, composers, and bands and make it an all day thing. If they can organize a traveling music festival for Ozzy Osbourne, why not do it for someone whose music actually warrants a festival like Frank Zappa?
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