Zappa music still superior; flaws blamed on audio-overkill

By Andrea Gill

The Record, October 28, 1980

It is doubtful that Frank Zappa's Saturday night appearance at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium was all it could have been. Zappa wasn't to blame. Audio-overkill was the weakening factor.

There an 'problably few souls in Buffalo who have not complained about sound distortion via intense volume in the Auditorium and it seems almost trite to mention it. Zappa's vocals were so muddied, that what should have been the most hilarious nuances were often unintelligible.

Glancing around, I observed too many silent stares during passages that should have brought some hearty guffaws, or at least a few snickers. Granted, there were occasional bursts of enthusiasm from seasoned listeners familiar with lyrics and opening chords. Appreciative applause followed each solo break. But the overall atmosphere was extremely stagnant. Rock-n-roll audiences just aren't this polite.

Nonetheless, Zappa and his orchestral army of musicians put out a superior two-hour nonstop act of fusion and modern classical
tunes built on the familiar dadaistic view of the American nightmare. The show's theme was "The Real World."

Since his involvement with the original Mothers of Invention in 1966, Zappa has been obsessed with ugliness: ugly band, ugly
lyrics, ugly lives, and an ugly country. And yes, Zappa is still ugly himself. He walked the stage in purple spandex and a Hawaiian shirt, unkempt hair and a droopy mustache. Would you let this man cook you dinner? Probably not. But would you partake of his intellect and wit for $7.98 a shot? Certainly.

More important than nothing-is-sacredness, is Zappa's musicianship. What seemed like mere noodling was a precise mixture of styles alternating between funk, jazz and the power chords of rock. Zappa's six-piece band put forth lush sound.

With baton in hand, Zappa took the opportunity to conduct his ensemble during the modern classical breaks; undoubtedly a throwback to his days with the Los Angeles symphony. With a ripe musician like Zappa on stage, the marred vocals seemed

Although blatant, Zappa's messages are never arrogant. The current tales of consumerism, sex, religion and discos where people dress in "serious clothing" are a far cry from the serious themes of earlier years. But then again, the world has changed, and Zappa
continues to pick out all the craziness within it.

Note. This is an October 25 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium concert review. The entire show has been officially released as Buffalo.