Zappa: faultless professionalism

By Tim Smith

Record Business, 26 February 1979

Venue: Hammersmith Odeon (3,480)
Promoter: Harvey Goldsmith
Tickets: £5 to £4
Audience: Former freaks on Zappa pilgrimage
Current product: album Sheik Yerbouti (CBS 88339) (C)

THE LEGAL hassles involving WEA and his new label CBS are obviously having little effect on Zappa's live performances. At Hammersmith last weekend, he turned out a technically faultless show that smacked of true professionalism and delighted an audience converted to his skills years ago.

Exercising tight control over his new band – four guitarists, four excellent vocalists, two keyboards players and two percussionists in all, Zappa sauntered through a set lasting almost three hours and taking in most of his musical range.

He appeared as the cynical comedian with a disco spoof and 'Jumbo Go Away', the master of jazz/rock with a mass of material from his forthcoming album, a series of brilliant instrumentals and, of course, a version of 'Peaches En Regalia'. Perhaps the only critisism was that at times his lyrics appeared bland, but that was more than adequately overcome by the music itself.