I once saw an interview with The Mighty Boosh, where Noel Fielding described their comedy as being for people who grew up listening to Frank Zappa. Falling as squarely into that quite particular demographic as I do, maybe this is why I resonate so much with their work. Certainly, for me, the inventively choreographed musical production numbers on their three TV series—think bohemian Busby Berkeley—were the highlights of each show. Kinda like The Monkees, in that way. The best Boosh episodes always have great musical payoffs.
When I caught the live Boosh experience at the Roxy last year, a primarily musical event, I must say, in true Paul Crik-parlance, they fucking killed it.
This weekend in London, Fielding and his comedic/musical partner in crime, Julian Barratt, will be co-headlining what looks to be an incredible musical event, celebrating the life and music of Frank Zappa, along with the Dweezil Zappa-led Zappa Plays Zappa band at a festival at the Roundhouse:
The three-day series of events begins tomorrow with a discussion between Frank’s wife Gail Zappa, his musical assistant Ali N Askin (who worked with him on his classical piece ‘The Yellow Shark’), computer synclavier programming expert Todd Yvega, and recording engineer Frank Fillipetti, the first engineer to work with The Zappa Family Trust on reissuing unreleased Zappa material. This precedes a performance of ‘The Yellow Shark’ by the London Contemporary Orchestra – the last album to be released before Zappa’s death in 1993, it features some typically Zappa-esque song titles; ‘G-Spot Tornado’, ‘Dog Breath Variations’, ‘Get Whitey’ and ‘Be-Bop Tango’. This will be followed by ‘Wild Imaginings – The Music That Influenced Zappa’ also performed by the LCO, giving an insight into Frank’s influences that ranged from Stravinsky to 1950s doo-wop, grungy rock ’n’ roll and jazz icon Eric Dolphy.
Yet it will be the Zappa Plays Zappa band that should provide the highlight of the celebrations on a double bill with cult British comedy duo The Mighty Boosh on Saturday. The ZPZ band have performed in the UK before but this should be particularly special as the band will feature original Zappa sidemen including Mothers of Invention singer / guitarist Jeff Simmons, anarchic bassist Scott Thunes and woodwind / keyboards player Ian Underwood. They’ll play Frank’s best selling album Apostrophe in its entirety as well as other selections from FZ’s vast repertoire. With The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt providing their own take on Zappa’s music and a comedy sketch recreating actual dialogue from Zappa’s infamous Old Bailey obscenity trial, plus Frank himself making an appearance to ‘play’ live with son Dweezil, this will be an epic and aptly surreal tribute to this truly unique musical visionary.
Frank Zappa: 70th Birthday Celebration, Roundhouse, London NW1, November 5 to 7, 2010