CONCERT COVERAGE: ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA | Phoenix Concert Theatre

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WORDS BY: GIANCARLO CORTEZ

4 months after their last Mississauga show, Zappa Plays Zappa returned to Toronto to perform Frank Zappa’s One Size Fits All on July 28, 2015 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

Playing the entire One Size Fits All, a classic album that brought The Mothers Of Invention (Zappa’s old band) new heights of success. Dweezil Zappa definitely shares his father experimental edge. Listening to his playing on “Inca Roads”, one of the many standout tracks on the classic album, proved it.  Tearing off angular and frenetic lead lines “Po-jama People” also shone.  “Evelyn, A Modofied Dog “ possesses a unique chordal sensibility, one that’s harmony evolved but never flashy.  The classic album contains some of the joyous songs on the Frank Zappa canon, a musician who has released 100 records. The album was phenomenally received by the crowd. It didn’t feel like beating a dead horse. The record  is holding up, standing the test of time thanks to Zappa Jr. The crowd ranged from few metalheads wearing Master Of Puppets shirts to diehard fans who are probably Frank Zappa’s age! I would believe it if they saw the legendary musician in the 70s. Anyway, I’m here to let the Facebook/Twitter generations know that Frank Zappa’s music is still being played live. It seems like the younger fans don’t even know Zappa Plays Zappa exist.

I cannot do this review without mentioning drummer Ryan Brown. In many ways, Ryan Brown, who joined in 2013, is the ideal replacement for Joe Travers, the original Zappa Plays Zappa drummer. For one, Brown has graduated from Indiana University in jazz studies and percussion. For another, the young drummer has performed on recording with Alex Lifeson (RUSH), Earl Slick and Rudy Sarzo. On top of that he has appeared as a musician in Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End. This new cat injected an aggressive energy and relentless groove into Dweezil’s sound. He is ready to follow Zappa restless muse wherever the trail might lead. Nice RASH shirt by the way!

Dweezil Zappa continued to celebrate his legendary father’s music by doing the classics such as “Montana”, “Baby Snakes” and “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama”. Although the band doesn’t have top musicians like Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio or Napoleon Murphy anymore, they still pull it off.  Some wondered how the band would fare without Steve Vai’s wild imagination. But Zappa Plays Zappa have acquitted themselves beautifully. Dweezil and Scheila Gonzales (Saxophone) have almost a decade playing together. Just like his legendary father, Dweezil has a maverick approach to everything and particularly in his pursuit of great guitar tones. “The Apostrophe” is a great example of that. The fret-burning classic left the crowd dazed. It made the younger Zappa smile.

After the show the band fired off about their latest adventure with the crowd at the merch table. They left everyone in line happy.

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