MACEWAN BALLROOM, JANUARY 25, 2014
“Are you ready?” Dweezil quizzed his polychromatic congregation. I can’t attest that anyone was truly prepared for the impending blitz that ZPZ had devised. A panorama of the crowd revealed a motley quilt of men (mostly) and women of all ages, donning everything from tie-dye tees to “Death”-patched denim. Members of the band were sporting matching black tops and humble blue jeans. Dig.
As I began to hone in on the extra-terrestrial energy of the show, Ben Thomas started bellowing the lines of “Penguin in Bondage”. I was in complete shell shock. I closed my eyes and swore Frank Zappa had been gracing us with his ghostly presence. From goose bumps to laughter, ZPZ had me swooning then losing my cool with classic Zap antics, such as the stage play during “Dummy Up” and the humility of other Zappites getting on stage for a fundamentally awkward and sexual parody-dance, during “Be-Bop Tango”.
The atmosphere became as heavy as the groove from my personal favourite off Roxy & Elsewhere, “Village of the Sun”. There were a few moments during the song where I felt my knees start to buckle, on the verge of a gospel faint.
Ben Thomas and Scheila Gonzalez revealed their onslaught of musical weapons throughout the show, including a soprano and alto sax, trombone, trumpet, flute and a myriad of ‘whatchamacallits’ and Zappa-doozits. Not to mention the impeccable playing of Dweezil, which seemed as effortless and graceful as his *ahem* charming smile that he chose to wear continuously. Everyone in the band aced their integral parts and achieved the ‘je ne sais quoi’ and outrageous life force that Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention brought to their live shows.(Facial acrobatics required).
Some unexpected treats such as “Muffin Man” and “I Come From Nowhere” were given to the audience to digest with the intrinsically thick set-list. My deluxe dream state was topped with the sombre-yet-sultry, “The Torture Never Stops”. Dweezil put it best, “Jazz isn’t dead – It’s just really, really smooth.”
Long live musical integrity.
By Shayla Friesen
Photos by Keven Fedirko