[MUSIC ~ SA]
Osmond Terrace Function Centre at Norwood Hotel, Thu 27 Feb.
Frank is back in the house tonight. Or, rather, Adelaide’s own Läther are once again performing an evening of works written and recorded by the singularly brilliant Frank Vincent Zappa. It’s a good crowd at Norwood; all the seats are taken and those left standing are struggling to find decent vantage points.
The show promises a celebration of Zappa’s prolific recording life, and early in the set the band travels back to 1966’s Freak Out album, to deliver Any Way The Wind Blows. Also included is Dupree’s Paradise, a song from the early 1970s but it was also performed on Zappa’s last tour. So that’s the career bookended, then.
This ensemble features, unsurprisingly, eight accomplished musicians. You don’t attempt to play Zappa unless you’ve got great chops. This is apparent throughout the night; the lead instruments playing melody in unison before scattering to the four winds in perfect disharmony is a great example. Not to mention the crazy time signatures. Overall the sound is spot on, the lead guitar and vibes combination that Zappa loved is at the forefront throughout. Instrumentals make up around half of the performance, but Gerry Masi does a great job on vocals when called upon.
Läther generally avoids the low-hanging fruit. Despite constant audience calls for Bobby Brown, it never happens. There also seems to be a running joke regarding Joe’s Garage, so it’s surprising to hear Outside Now in the first set.
The second set begins with Son Of Suzy Creamcheese. Somewhere amid all this carefully managed mayhem, the audience is treated to the triumphant Peaches en Regalia. At one stage they are invited to sing along if they know the words, immediately before the band serves up a couple of instrumentals from the Burnt Weeny Sandwich album. Comedy gold. The set closes with the much-requested Muffin Man.
After a very short break the evening concludes with an encore version of Cosmik Debris, featuring two beautiful solos from the trombone and saxophone respectively.
Läther are fabulous; they never disappoint. Zappa is at the heart of their performance, but it is executed with precision and affection – the key to their ongoing loyal Adelaide fan-base.
Image courtesy of David Robinson