It sounds simple enough. Dweezil Zappa re-discoverers his father's music, immerses himself in it, and puts together a bad-ass band to go on the road and play it. Add to that appearances by certain Zappa alumni and you have a recipe for a very cool night.
What happens when a big ol' wrench gets thrown in the works? Ummmmmmm.... maybe your lead singer has to rush home because of a family emergency. Not just any lead singer.... Napoleon Murphy Brock!
This is where it gets interesting. Dweezil et al come up with a set that can be done without Brock. A set comprised not just of some songs from the original set list, but several other songs that had yet to see the light of day on this tour. I can't recount the setlist song for song, but I can tell you that it was chaotic, irreverent and beautiful. "Stinkfoot" was brought out on stage for the first time, and "Inca Roads" was a treat. There were also several songs that I know when I hear them but couldn't tell you the name of.
Dweezil has put together a band that is frighteningly good. The standouts for me were Scheila Gonzalez who seemed to play everything and sing at the same time, and the bassist Pete Griffin. Pete exuded fun and youthful exuberance, and commanded the stage without taking the spotlight from anyone else. I agree with Dweezil's choice to put together a young band, it brought a vitality to the show that wouldn't have been there with a band made up solely of Zappa alumni.
Oh, but what Zappa alumni Dweezil did bring on the road! Terry Bozzio is one hell of a drummer and did fantastic versions of "Punky's Whips" and "I'm So Cute." He also brought some much needed comedy to the show when he initiated some witty banter with Dweezil.
But, the man that truly owned the stage (even if it was for just a short time) was Steve Vai . I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have been as eager to attend this show if Steve Vai hadn't been included. "Peaches on Regalia" and "Montana" have seldom sounded so good. Steve owned the Hummingbird Centre, but knew when to lay back and let others shine. Though when it came to trading licks with Dweezil he chewed him up and spit him out time and time again.
Below are some short clips of "Montana" featuring Steve Vai on Vocals:
All in all, Zappa plays Zappa is a fitting homage to one of music's most prolific and talented composers. Dweezil, your dad would be proud.
Definitely agree, Steve Via and Terry Bozzio made this concert worth going to....the show i saw in Canton OH last night was like guitar lessons for Dweezil. I was not impressed at all with Dweezil's playing or his band in general. The more complex parts of the songs seemed like they were slowed down and just not played correctly. The melodic percussionist doesn't have what it takes to play Frank's music. Where's Ruth!?! Even Napoleon was struggling with the vocals on Inca Roads and other tunes, a disappointment coming from one of the original FZ virtuoso vocalists.
Standing ovation for Steve Vai and Terry Bozzio, i.e., "The Real Thing". Thank you for honoring Frank's music, which would have otherwise been played by a mediocre Zappa cover band. Steve played every note and part perfectly, and Terry was right there with him. It was very much a, "let me show you how its done" feel. You just cant assemble any group of musicians to play Franks music. I would have substituted the vitality of the young musicians for more Zappa alumni. At least we would have been guaranteed the high caliber of musicianship necessary to take on such a challenging task as playing Franks music.
In all fairness, maybe i just caught them on an off night, but Dweezil seemed like he was either completely exhausted or smacked out...he almost forgot to introduce half of the band, and his playing was worse than "just not cutting it"....it was plain bad. His guitar was to loud and he was playing bad sounding notes. It was embarrassing, and disrespectful to Steve Vai; who should only be onstage playing with the best. Steve must have done it out of sympathy for for Dweezil, who's stage presence was very withdrawn. This seemed to happen after Steve Vai took the stage....not sure, maybe Dweezil just locked up from the intimidation of playing alongside one of the greatest guitarists alive. What a treat though, to here Steve Vai shred over Zombie Woof....and they did nail The Black Page, again thanks to Terry and Steve.
Im really hoping Steve and Terry put together a band in the near future that actual does justice to Frank's music. Keep trying Deezil, i give you credit for even attempting to pull this off. I'm sure its been an enormous amount of hard work but you are just not there yet....maybe next year, if Steve is willing to give you guitar lessons.