Dweezil Zappa @ Town Hall, Birmingham – Thursday 12 October 2017


Review by Dean Pedley.

Town Hall is a venue that holds a unique place in Frank Zappa folklore as it was at this grand old venue that way back in 1969 Frank and the Mothers Of Invention recorded the title track of what would become Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Opening the second part of what was a near three hour show with an abbreviated version of the chaotic two minute instrumental Dweezil Zappa is somewhat apologetic at having subjected the audience to around ninety seconds of it. Not that anyone seemed to mind as the crowd had very much come along to celebrate ’50 Years of Frank’ and were rewarded with a set list that spanned all eras and included some really deep cuts from a body of work that stands at more than one hundred albums and counting.

With his much publicised legal wrangling with the Zappa Family Trust you could easily forgive the guitarist had he appeared a little jaded on stage. The reality was very different as he appeared to be having the time of life and clearly appreciative of his audience. Supported by an outstanding group of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Dweezil and his band are very much keeping the spirit of Frank Zappa’s music alive whilst adding their own unique twists to an eclectic back catalogue. Much of the first half was focused on the psychedelic Mothers of Invention years with gems such as ‘It Can’t Happen Here’, ‘Motherly Love’, ‘Cruising for Burgers’ and ‘Mom & Dad’. Cian Coey, taking a break from belting out power ballads at Vegas showcase Rockin’ The Vault, has a voice extremely well suited to the numerous twists and turns of the Zappa songbook that moves seamlessly from doo wop to full throttle hard rock.

For those who came to marvel at Dweezil the guitarist extraordinaire there were also plenty of highlights from the perfect rendition of the ‘James Bond Theme’ that led into ‘Studebaker Hoch’, first half closer ‘Zomby Woof’ and a wonderful ‘City of Tiny Lites’. Truly, Dweezil Zappa was born to play this music and should never be denied the right to do so. It all ended in glorious fashion with a fantastic cover of ‘I Am the Walrus’ and an appreciation for what was a very special evening of scintillating live music.

Set One
Latex Solar Beef
It Can’t Happen Here
You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here
Bow Tie Daddy
Harry, You’re a Beast
The Orange County Lumber Truck
Motherly Love
Any Way the Wind BlowsDweezil Zappa 17
Mom & Dad
Tell Me You Love Me
Cruising For Burgers
James Bond Theme
Studebaker Hoch
Advance Romance
Zomby Woof

Set Two
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Would You Go All the Way?
Wind Up Workin’ in a Gas Station
Dirty Love
Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?
Bwana Dik
Lumpy Gravy
Village Of The Sun
Echidna’s Arf (Of You)
Let’s Move to Cleveland
Inca Roads
City of Tiny Lites

Duke of Prunes
Dinah-Moe Humm
I Am the Walrus