Frank Zappa: Hammersmith Odeon

By Kevin Tea

Music Week, March 3, 1979

STUNNING IS the only word to describe Zappa's recent Saturday show. [1] The man who brought us the mudshark, gave us an obsession with ponchos and warned us not to eat the yellow snow, gave an impressive three hour set that spanned a decade from Brown Shoes through to his current Sheik Yerbouti album.

Although he controlled the music with machine-like efficiency, Zappa was relaxed as he ambled up and down the stage sneering the lyrics at the audience or sitting on a stool, smoking a king-size and drinking while Ike Willis look over on vocals.

Manipulation seems to be a preoccupation with Zappa. With the band tight behind him, it's the audience who he turns his attention to, getting them up on their feel to him pounce on a fur trapper who had the unmitigated audacity to whap on his baby seal with a lead filled snow shoe. The set was broken up by a member of the audience handing Zappa a book which the keyboard man read an extract from — clinical hints on canine birth with the use of surgical scissors as opposed to zircon encrusted tweezers.

For an encore the band played an excerpt from the Uncle Meat album, that showed that Zappa was experimenting with jazz influences back in the early seventies.

1. FZShows: February 19, 1979. The band: FZ, Ike Willis, Denny Walley, Warren Cucurullo, Arthur Barrow, Vinnie Colaiuta, Ed Mann, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf.
Several songs from this show were later included in albums. Circulating audience recording: Deathless Horsie [SUNPYG], intros [incl. Diseases Of The Band, YCDTOSA1], Bamboozled By Love [TTR], Conehead (incl. Five-Five-Five [SUNPYG] and Thirteen, q: Watermelon In Easter Hay), Dead Girls Of London, I Ain't Got No Heart, Brown Shoes Don't Make It, Cosmik Debris, Tryin' To Grow A Chin, City Of Tiny Lights, Dancin' Fool, Easy Meat (q: Thirteen), Jumbo Go Away [parts on TFZAAABB], Andy, Inca Roads [incl. Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar, SUNPYG], Florentine Pogen, Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?, Keep It Greasey, The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, For The Young Sophisticate, Wet T-Shirt Nite, Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, Peaches En Regalia, Yellow Snow Suite [parts on YCDTOSA1], Montana, Dirty Love.