Dweezil Zappa – Leeds Town Hall – 10th December 2019
“Nanook, ano-no” sings Adam Minkoff at the start of Dont Eat The Yellow Snow but tonight is a case of Zappa ayes-yes in the magnificent surroundings of Leeds Town Hall, this is just a prelude of things to come because before we know it the band launches headlong into Peaches En Regalia.
This tour is different as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Hot Rats, quite possibly Frank Zappa’s most famous release, performed in full, and whilst I am not generally a fan of these whole album shows (you can easily just put the album on at home) this is likely to be just a little bit special. And it is special for Dweezil Zappa too, at the time of it’s release his father dedicated the mostly instrumental album to his then newly born son.
The ability for the band to perfectly recreate the album is breathtaking, not only does Minkoff pull off Frank Zappa’s singing voice perfectly, he also manages a pretty close replication of Captain Beefheart on Willie The Pimp. Zappa Snr’s work is complex so it emphasises the skill of the band in recreating these pieces of music, they are such a close facsimile of the originals – close your eyes and it is Frank on stage.
This huge hall looks striking with coloured lights flashing against the massive organ pipes at the back of the stage. There is massive reverberation from the PA too as the sound bounces around the room and Ryan Brown’s drums are echoing around the vast space above us, but it adds to the overall ambience. The ornate arches high above the audience also give a dramtic feel to the evening. This is an magnificent venue for this special occasion.
Son of Mr. Green Genes is outstanding and Dweezil’s playing on a gold top Les Paul faultlessly creates that late 60’s sound of his father’s guitar. Scheila Gonzales saxophone playing is inspired too, the sound from which also fills the hall; it is especially noticeable on The Gumbo Variations where Dweezil’s solo that follows is, well, mindblowing.
Whilst It Must Be A Camel is described by Zappa Jnr. as possibly the weirdest thing his father had written, it is certainly strange, and complex, but it is delivered pretty much flawlessly.
The second half of the show is a run through a “best of” from across Frank’s career. From Montana (or Scunthorpe as it is seemingly called this evening) to Teen-Age Wind. A divergence into the The Knack’s My Sharona seems odd but historically it was often woven into rehearsals and was a go-to piece for Frank from time to time.
From 1970 we get Who Needs The Peace Corps, Dweezil’s Les Paul sounding full and meaty as he recreates his fathers solo. Scunthorpe crops up and down before the cynicism of TV evangelists takes over in Heavenly Bank Account. Unsurprisingly Scunthorpe makes an appearance during Pick Me, I’m Clean which features yet another blistering solo from Dweezil, the boy sure can play.
It’s about this time Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson entered the stage and a tale was regaled where he was picked up at Pizza Express in Scunthorpe in a white Boss Hogg Cadillac and taken to Pizza Express in Woking… I am sure you can join the Andy styled dots. Johnny G shone and plays a cracking solo .
For the encore an insane rendition of I Am The Slime comes replete with another astonishing solo from Dweezil and brings to an end a150 minute, 29 song tour de force with no-one going home disappointed. As for Scunthorpe, you had to be there to understand.
His father is still missed.