Man, you shoulda been there. Oh, you were? Hope I didn’t do anything
untoward to offend thee? Good, got that out the way. Us
BD Vets have got the getting out there well sorted now, and the anticipation of
another great event was high. And so were we. Were we disappointed? You bet we
weren’t (although Canadian John did forget his long trousers, towel and tent
poles, which meant all three of us shared Uncle Ian’s tent. Cosy).
The annual erection occurred to the sounds of the second band; we do get a very
early flight from Stansted each year, but it rarely
gets us there in time to see the first act – who this year were Weirdo Naffn.
Festival regulars Jazzprojekt Hundehagen
segued seamlessly from one solo from Shut
Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar to
another (starting rather aptly with Why
Johnny Can’t Read – sorry, John – through Pinocchio’s Furniture and more). A fine way to get us juiced up for
the rest of the day, and a great alt.Set generally. Nice
one. Next was the Grand Wazoo of Italian origin, who were
ably assisted by Napoleon Murphy Brock
– in Sinatra mode today. We had some nice plinky keys
during Hungry Freaks Daddy, a Love Story intro to The Black
Page, the Spiderman theme and a step up the Stairway To Heaven
to finish off Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? Napi
whipped out his sax for Son Of Orange County and wanted 10 Finnish Marks for all
requests. By the time we’d gone through the Village
Of The Sun to Echidna’s
Arf, Ian’s weekend was complete already. Inca Roads featured an ecstatic keyboard
solo and a quote from The Rite Of Spring. They were rapturously received, and I rightly
heard good things about them for the next two days. Final Virus played an odd set that included King Crimson’s Epitaph, a great girl guitarist, and a Zomby Woof-quoting version of Hey Jude. Back for more conventional
entertainment with Cuccurullo Brillo Brullo, who pre-empted Dr Dark with a ‘Pepsi’ version of Torchum. The guitar solo on Willie
The Pimp featured some nice quotes (
“Hello Germany, I come from nowhere”: I’d been really looking forward to seeing Paul Green’s School Of Rock again and, having enjoyed their Rock School film only a few days previous, all I could say was “my, how they’ve grown”. But CJ is still his mum’s little soldier (hi Monique – thanks for sharing your umbrella). The kids played some of the more obscure FZ songs, like Dickie’s Such An Asshole, Debra Kadabra (with Napi on sax), Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk (with Ike reading the words coz he hadn’t performed it since 1988, and Mel Gibson/Passion taunting Twilight Zone interlude), Punky’s Whips (without The Idiot on backing vox – hey, Paul: wha’appen?!), as well as a visual Approximate (they performed it three ways: as a rock band; as a solely vocal extravaganza; and as a dance); and Ike joined them for five-Five-FIVE, Suicide Chump, Teen-Age Wind and more and, despite the rain, the disappearance of my sleepy travelling companions, and my now indecipherable notes, I recall this was bloody good stuff. Apparently interviewed afterwards by Peter Van Laarhoven in the Arf Shop, Paul re-pickled the gauntlet thrown down last year that his kids could kick the Zappa Graduates bo-bos. I’m not convinced about this, as for me (and this was perhaps better demonstrated the next night when they played a set of Pink Floyd tunes) they lack a little subtlety. Also, while they play real good, they’re a little lacking in the vocal department – which didn’t actually matter too much for Nowhere and I’m So Cute…but let’s not get into another pissing contest: they’re great and I hope they keep coming back to the Zappanale. I didn’t really want to go to sleep, but felt I probably should – and thus I missed Guru Guru. Like Kraan last year, I heard only nice things about them too.
Psychonautilus opened the Saturday; a one-man band who, had people not been so bemused by him, would have been bottled off. He played something that sounded like tunes at the start but – like the audience – wandered off a bit as things progressed. There was a bit of wait while the first band, got set up but it was definitely worth it. For me, the Low Budget Orchestra was one of the highlights of this year’s festival. Starting with The Grand Wazoo, they played a lovely, jazzy set including many a high point – such as I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth, I’m The Slime and Montana with Polish lyrics, Blessed Relief, Chunga’s Revenge with a nice flute solo, and some lovely looking girls at the back (sorry, don’t mean to sound sexist, but apparently the Fabchannel cameramen also found them quite diverting). They encored with Ravel’s Bolero, for which they evidently needed the sheet music. Sadly, after they finished, there was a tremendous hailstorm that sent Dr Dark’s audience scurrying under the big tent. Fortunately, the sun came out a little after they started and the many Beefheart fans in attendance had much fun jiving to their jittery stylings. Many of the usual suspects were played, though they also included Metal Man Has Won His Wings and aforementioned Torture. A nice touch. I really think the Magic Band’s reunion has helped to keep this great music fresh and alive, as well as bringing it to a wider audience. It is thus a great shame that Dr Dark imploded shortly after Zappanale and may not now assist the Captain’s former boys in spreading the word. The Metropolis Orchestra were another highlight, who my notes say played a similar set to that regularly performed by our own dear Zappatistas. But I think I am confused: sure, they started with Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus, and played Let’s Make The Water Turn Black/Oh No! (with Napi on vox, sports fans), King Kong & Peaches…maybe I was thinking instrumentally? Or maybe that piece of scribble should more appropriately have been attributed to the LBO? Whatever, I smiled sweetly when – during the Lonesome Cowboy Burt part of Torture – they included the Benny Hill end theme. Cookie boys.
The School Of Rock’s lengthy closing set was marred slightly by rain (again), but it was good to hear a selection of classic Floyd (from Syd to The Wall) played by people who weren’t born when the stuff was first writ. See Emily Play and The Nile Song followed Wish You Were Here, and then it was back to all the Dark Side and beyond stuff. As I say, the emphasis was very much on rocking out – nevertheless, enjoyable stuff and I went to bed slightly moist, a smile on my face, shirttails up my backside and a Euro in my hand. And not for the first time. Ooh, I need a dirty woman?
We were slow getting up the next morning, so enjoyed much of the Zappin Buzz Band’s very visual set inside our tents (and in the shower). A power trio
(assisted by a couple of dancers), they wanted to take
all their clothes off and dance to the Igor’s boogie that Grand Wazoo quoted on Friday. And pretty much did! But not before
playing mostly crowd pleasers from Sheik Yerbouti,
Joe’s Garage and OSFA. Our leisurely Sunday morning continued
with John having a massage to the sounds of the Yahozna
Band. He’d been hoping for an In New York rendition of Cruising For Burgers, too. They followed this with a restrained
guitar intro to Heavy Duty Judy, which later contained a blistering
six-stringed solo and a nice sax passage before going back to the main theme.
They also played a G-Spot Tornado-Black Napkins-Eat That Question
medley, the Duke’s Caravan (minus drum solo) and the Jaco
arrangement of The Chicken. Suitably refreshed following the strange pea
(but no mint) soup with a large sausage concoction luncheon, we were ready to
be whelmed by the NDR BigBand. The sun came
out and, yes, this was another highlight. They played much of Hot Licks (And
Funny Smells), though sadly minus the Watermelon/Brown Shoes segment
(I think!). Their instrumental version of Stevie’s Spanking, with its
lovely driving guitar riff, was the one tune they played again as an encore.
And they had to play an encore after the lengthy cheering that ensued on the
completion of their set proper.
Musically, Zappanale was pretty amazing this year. And the alumni were kinda nicely restrained, which actually made quite a pleasant change after the last few star-studded years. And rather than release a nearly chronological 3-CD set this year, the Arfs have decided to issue three separate discs – one for each day.
© 2005 A Yeah-Yeah-Carp Production