A last minute dash from the Concert Hall Car Park to the hall meant I didn’t have time to visit the bar and establish if the on-going brown beer conspiracy against me continues, I suspect so!
First time I saw this band was four years ago in Edinburgh. It was a far younger audience than what’s here tonight. I can only surmise that this is due to a combination of tonight being a seated venue and a fairly serious hike in ticket price(s).
The lights went down at half seven sharp. Then the six of them, all wearing a uniform of plain black tee-shirts and blue jeans walked on to the stage, plugged in and, apart from a short intermission, that’s exactly where they remained until ten minutes to eleven. Phew!
A quick ‘Good Evening, Glasgow!’ , then straight off they opened up the loping riff to The Gumbo Variations from Hot Rats, trivia alert – a tune that Frank himself never actually played live, and Sheila Gonzalez hits the ground running. I can’t recall any musician opening a show with such an intense passionate solo, Lisa Simpson would be proud. She then passes the musical baton to Dweezil who plays the solo that Don Sugarcane Harris takes on the record. I’ve heard many guitarists use effects to emulate other instruments (Fripp& Belew making their guitars be fairly convincing pianos etc.) however the electric fiddle sound deployed here is really quite incredible.
Sheila, meanwhile, is a force of nature, singing, playing saxes & keyboards, dancing and if that’s not enough, during all this, donning amongst other things kneepads, wraparound shades and a Viking helmet – depending upon what best serves the particular song to hand.
The Roxy and Elsewhere album was then played in its entirety and running order. I must confess and admit to be in a minority of Zappaphiles but I think this album is actually quite overrated. I just don’t ‘get’ why it’s lauded above so many other more ‘deserving’ titles.
During Bebop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church) , Dweezil asks for volunteers to do some ‘interpretative dancing’. An overweight and, if I’m honest, overpowering character got up to accompany the two females already selected
I found this performance all quite amusing until I realised it was actually Paul Riley who plays Winston from ‘Still Game’. The fact that he was a thespian somehow made it seem disingenuous, despite the fact that he’s obviously a serious ‘word perfect’ fan and that the band were also blissfully unaware of his local celebrity status.
Reservations about ‘Roxy’ aside, Cheepnis along with Trouble Every Day were standouts. This band is tight.
A couple sitting in front of us BOTH film the show on their phones, her on the long shots, him on close ups. Get a life!
Apart from a very small bass amplifier there’s absolutely no onstage backline tonight. Everything’s FOH. They all wore in-ear monitors and set up their own personal foldback mix from iPads on music stands. Meanwhile at his feet DZ had an FX collection about the size of an ironing board. I’ve been in guitar gear shops with fewer pedals than what DZ was deploying here tonight. He even looked as if he had a couple of Eventides to hand as well.
Being in Glasgow allowed them to make reference to Whisky & Haggis throughout the evening and local lads AC/DC’s Highway to Hell was quoted more than a few times too.
They closed the first set with Yakkety Sax, also known as The Benny Hill Theme. I was tempted to chase wifey around the auditorium in a cartoon fashion, discarding clothes as I did so, however thought better of it.
Florentine Pogen was absolutely flawless and the bass end of the mini moog sound was perfection. I could have listened to that all night.
In amongst a myriad of Frank tunes they played ‘Flakes’ from the Sheik Yerbouti album, complete with the Bob Dylan parody. The irony in this was that, Bob himself was onstage in Glasgow at that very moment, only a mile away at The Armadillo.
Eschewing traditional closer Peaches En Regalia, for Muffin Man, was inspired and, quite surprisingly, after three hours plus, onstage, I still wanted more!
The amazing thing is with such a deep catalogue to draw from, they could quite easily have played another similar lengthy show with completely different material.