MOSAE ZAPPA 2012
Now in its second year, Mosae Zappa is like a mini-Zappanale, only in Holland and set-up by the lovely, ravishing, awesome duo of Billy & Ethell. And they're getting some great bands involved...although the pre-party in Aachen with the GrandMothers Of Invention was purely coincidental. I think. Having had a very fine journey from Amsterdam with the Mancs and the Vikings and their confounded bubbles, I managed to miss the very start of the Grannies show. But was still nevertheless thoroughly entertained. We all know by now that Napi is Mr Entertainment personified (yes, and quite the little diva, too - telling the house engineer exactly what he needed to do), and Preston is just amazing - and at such an advanced age, too. Long may he run - egg tricks too! With Chris Garcia on drums (and vox for Debra Kadabra) and Robbie ‘Seahag’ Mangano on guitar (he and Miroslav Tadic are interchangeable - both supremely gifted exponents of the six stringed instrument), the highlight for me was though finally getting to see Tom Fowler on bass. He may look a little frail, but his playing is still very much top-notch. He played a very fine solo during Echidna's Arf. Napi produced some incredible low honks and sang and danced as only he can. He reckons he's asked Angela Merkel to change the German national anthem to Sofa. Well, if anyone can charm the trousers off her, Napi can. Seahag and Don got to solo during Holiday In Berlin, the latter on his iPhone! All in all, a wondrous trek across the border, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again in London this November.
Okay, on to the festival proper. Replacing the virgin Corrie van Binsbergen at the eleventh hour was Ensemble Mosae, comprising Michel Delville (guitar) and Laurent Delchambre (drums) from the Wrong Object, and another top-hole bassist: Guy Segers. Playing a selection of Frank's love songs, they started with a brief improv leading into Shankar's Touch Me There. Following this with a number of unexpected pieces (Treacherous Cretins, Tengo Na Minchia Tanta, five-Five-FIVE), they also provided some traditional content (Wino Man, with great Apostrophe-like bass from Segers, Torture, with stylophone solo, and Help I'm A Rock with a little audience participation). Although perhaps a little low-key, being a three-piece, I found their set to be a gnat's more entertaining than the The Muze Jazz Orchestra, who followed. Sure, the ten-piece (five horns) orchestra blew the roof off the place, but their song selection was less inspiring (Zomby Woof, Cosmic Debris, Dirty Love). Only a gnat’s, remember, but I guess that's what ten years of attending Zappanale does for ya - and seeing/hearing Ed Palermo and Colin Towns & the NDR Big Band. Anyways, it seemed I was in a minority as most peeps were foaming at the mouth about them afterwards. And you have to concede that, as Magdalena quite rightly pointed out, ANYONE who attempts to spank some Frank – any Frank - deserves credit because it's not easy music to play. If I wore a hat, I'd take it off.
Day Two's opening act also chose an interesting route through the maestro's oeuvre with a dazzling array of song-within-song references. I'm sure the Lex Bronkowitz Orchestra will forgive me if I got any of this wrong (as my head was spinning by the time they'd finished), but: Dupree's Paradise interpolated a snippet from A Pound For A Brown (on marimba), Mr Green Genes wore a Wedding Dress remnant, Uncle Remus ate some Easy Meat, RDNZL travelled along them Inca Roads and Big Swifty fucked Yo Mama. The band were reportedly nervous beforehand, but when they bounced on the stage and hit a great funky groove, they all seemed very enthused and determined to have a good time - and ensure the same for the audience. Needless to say, beaming smiles all round.
Now, we weren't sure what we were gonna get from Grupo Go - with five aerophones, an accordionist stroke vocalist, and an drummer. I knew to expect a couple of Zappa pieces they'd specially prepared, but they were all about fun, fun, fun. They played stuff like Tequila, Route 66, Jaco (not Bazbo)'s Chicken, The James Bond Theme and Zorba's Dance - which provided one of the non-musical highlights of the weekend, as the many many Zappateers upfront tried manfully to eat the beat only to end up falling in a heap! The Zappa tunes were Dirty Love and Zomby Woof, both played with aplomb and good humour. Party!
And so finally the final act. Peach Noise reminded me of Bogus Pomp in the way they very professionally whipped through some pretty complex stuff with ease. But for me the affected Frank N. Furter shouty vocals were a little bothersome. I sincerely hope this view will change when I see them again at Zappanale in August - perhaps it was because the festival was almost over and I was getting a little grumpy. But as I say, on their instruments they were the nuts. The Sleep Dirt sax solo was a doozy.
It’s funny because where ever we went that weekend there seemed to be orange footie regalia everywhere: I bet it was all torn down a fortnight later. Anyway, thanks to Billy & Ethell for hosting this, and here’s to many more. Proost!