THERE has been as much orchestrated chaos behind the scenes of this tour as there has been on stage, as Frank Zappa’s eldest son Dweezil fights a legal challenge from his younger siblings over what he can call his long-running touring tribute to his father’s music. So for now his 50 Years of Frank show has been impishly subtitled Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants – The Cease and Desist Tour. You sense his father might approve.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ***
In other respects, this was business as usual as it can be where Zappa’s sprawling, wildly eclectic catalogue is concerned. Zappa Jr’s superb band were technically true to the letter of his music; as to the spirit, they conveyed the humour without quite capturing the acid cabaret of a Mothers of Invention show.
Mere seconds in to the set, they hit the assembled Frank acolytes with the jumbled cantata It Can’t Happen Here, the sort of deconstructed Beach Boys number to send Zappa rookies running. The hardened fans lapped it up, adding their own guttural heckles and declarations of love for wonderful woodwind player Scheila Gonzales to the discordant vocal symphony.
A two-and-a-half hour demonstration of Zappa’s use of rock band as orchestra followed, encompassing the psychedelic doowop of Motherly Love, nightmare reverie of Mom & Dad, funk rock maelstrom I’m the Slime and a meticulously executed James Bond theme to complement Zappa’s own gonzo secret agent Studebaker Hoch in the first half and a lesser nonsense prog jazz second half incorporating Let’s Move to Cleveland and Cosmik Debris.