Saturday, 6 November 2010

Frank Zappa 70 at the Roundhouse

This weekend sees a number of concerts dedicated to the highly eclectic, prolific and politically appropriated composer-producer-performer Frank Zappa. I know this because I got a round robin email from the Roundhouse where it's all (well most of it is) happening. Rather brilliantly for those of us unable to attend, the Roundhouse set up cameras and live-streamed the event with a Twitter feed on the same page. Here's a typically modern-meets-conventional screen shot:
This way I was able to catch much of the music from The Yellow Shark, Zappa's late album. Indeed a great deal of it sounds like the acoustic elements of the musique concrète that he found so absorbing in Varese's modest output. There's all sorts here - torrents of proto-Messiaen passed across an orchestra of broad palette - and the set proper ended with an unashamedly rock-driven work. In addition to the hard-working mandolin player pictured, there's a cymbalon and the conventional orchestra could be seen to play percussion and even laugh at given moments. I was pleased to have caught it. It's clear, energetic, meticulously scored music of verve and good fun but not without consequence.

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