Zappa Plays Zappa – Frank Zappa 70th Birthday Celebration, The Roundhouse,London

5.00

A sparkling display of the family jewels

First of all I have a confession to make – I never did get the opportunity to see Frank Zappa play live before his untimely death in 1993. It remains one of my great gig regrets. So a chance to witness his son Dweezil and band perform a selection of Zappa's finest works in the intimate surrounds of the Roundhouse was a no-brainer.

From the hushed tones of Dweezil's introduction, it's clear that this isn't your average gig. His father was more composer than straight musician and tonight's show is at times more classical performance than classic rock gig.

Instrumental opener "The Gumbo Variations" transports us straight into Zappa world as Dweezil's guitar and Scheila Gonzalez's steamy sax set the tone for the evening. The eight musicians are as tight as a band can be, the line-up a fitting ensemble to reproduce the best of Zappa's oeuvre. Close your eyes for a second and you could be at a gig at the height of Frank's fame in the Seventies. The crowd lap it up, roaring approval at Zappa junior's cultured solos.

Next it's straight into Apostrophe, a perennial favourite of the Zappa cognoscenti since its 1974 release. And tonight we are to witness the whole album in its running order. Young singer Ben Thomas is warmly welcomed on stage – it's a tough call for him, as essentially he has to recreate Zappa's vocals as well as the myriad other voices that pepper his work. The vocals are slightly down in the mix, but Thomas seems to have nailed it pretty well.

However, there's much more to tonight's show than just an accurate recital of the great man's work. When "Cosmik Debris" starts up, the screen above the band switches to a video of Frank in concert – so while Dweezil plays, his father sings. It's effortlessly segued together, a triumph of technology that could so easily have been an epic failure. But the sound levels match, the performances match and it doesn't feel mawkish, even when Zappa starts smoking a cigarette nodding in "approval" as he looks down on his son playing the guitar. It's rapturously received.

The band cruise through the rest of the album, including a standout "Uncle Remus", and the crowd go wild at the final bars of "Stinkfoot".

Next up is the sublime "Inca Roads". Zappa again appears on the screen playing an exquisite, weaving solo as only he can, while Dweezil leans on an amp gazing up at his father. It's a touching moment that neatly sums up the evening. We are all here to celebrate Zappa's life and work – and while some obsessives might dismiss Dweezil's guitar playing or claim that you're better off watching a DVD of the man himself, they are clearly missing the point.

More treats are to follow as ex-Zappa bassist Scott Thunes bounds on stage to link up with his old sparring partner via the wonders of technology for a cracking version of "Dumb All Over" – and Jeff Simmons sings lead on "Wino Man".

A final treat is when Zappa's daughter, Moon Unit, with her own daughter, Mathilda, make a surprise entrance to repetitive beats for a rousing version of "Valley Girl". It's the Eighties hit that first got me into Zappa. Happy birthday Frank – you may be gone, but your music lives on.



Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map