Frank Zappa. Public Hall. October 1

By Bill Camarata

Scene, 5 October 1978

Public Hall
Oct. 1

This was the third time I have seen Frank Zappa perform in Cleveland. As all of you already know, he is a composer of great prolifity and he has been known to do some pretty fantastic things in his time. He also has been known to do numerous things that many people consider to be lewd and disgusting. But, Frank Zappa is Frank Zappa. This time he visited Our Town with a seven-piece band backing him: two keyboard players, two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and a percussionist. As would be expected, there was a large assemblage of equipment. Producing the music Zappa has written into sound is not exactly the easiest thing to do. His complex duorhythms and sometimes polyrhythms make for some of the most fascinating music I have ever set my ears upon.

The way it is performed is something to behold, too. Once the band starts, they never stop; breaks are totally absent. When the song that they were doing winds to a close, the next one is already being started.

The concerts that Frank Zappa does are not mere recaps of his ventures onto vinyl. His struggle with certain record companies can make sure of that more than Frank can himself. Nearly two thirds of the songs performed Sunday night were new material. And when he does a song that has appeared on disc, it is arranged in a totally different way than ever before. For example: Frank announced “Little House I Used To Live In,” and what followed (as far as I can tell) was an expansion and rearranged rendition of the “Piano Introduction To Little House I Used To Live In” played by the entire band. Other songs that were drawn from his past repertoire were “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow,” “Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?,” “Magic Fingers,” “Strictly Genteel" among others, including the yet to be released “City Of Tiny Lights.” To say the least, I was entertained.

The only thing I don’t really enjoy at a Zappa show are some of the songs where Frank states his opinions on such things as religion and ways of life. I do like most of them, quite a few offer great social satire. But sometimes he sounds unfortunately like a protest song the cat dragged in from the 60’s.