Norwood Hotel – Osmond Terrace Function Centre, Sun 17 Feb.
Frank Zappa, anti-pop, anti-establishment, yet a trained classical composer, with almost 40 modern style albums produced, from ‘66 through to ‘83, as well as several classical recordings. I thought a pre-listen to Lather (a 3 CD Best of) would stand me in good stead. It didn’t!
Local outfit Läther delivered a seriously good Zappa experience, but while there were a few tunes I knew, many I didn’t (they did promise some obscure Zappa). With a band consisting of keys, vibes, tenor and alto sax, bass, drums, guitar and a vocalist – there was probably a limit on which songs could best be presented.
The mix featured plenty of jazz, with touches of rock and some of Frank’s piss-takes on pop. Of course there were a few quite in your face lyrics. For mine the vibraphone could have been a little higher in the mix, although it could be heard clearly when it was intended to be. Every instrument, with opportunity to shine – did so! The musicianship was hot; the beats were mixed, varied and sometimes scrambled, as per Frank’s intent. The audience were quite varied, some clearly had been Zappa fans back in the day and quite a few of these were singing along – clearly on cloud nine! There were younger audience members also well into it, some jazz aficionados also enjoying the experience, but too cool to show it.
Two solid sets and an encore later – we all went home satisfied that we’d had an experience of the great man, although I suspect Frank might have been a little more ‘loose’, a bit more in our faces and with a bit more disrespect toward the audience and the establishment around him – that’s the kind of headlines he made back in the day!