Zappa Plays Zappa Monday August 10, 2009 At Higher Ground

Words by Tim Lewis.

I loved the show last year when they played Higher Ground and thought this one would be fun too.  I had heard Ray White had left but thought they would find another fun showman to lead the band.  Everyone seemed to be going to this one.  I got a ticket from a gift certificate that friends from work gave me for my birthday.  Rich got a free one with a plus one and took Mike.  Chris L and Chris and Robin got tickets.  Don and Alex got tickets.  Everything looked it was going to be a fantastic night.

Rich showed up and he took his car and I rode with Mike.  Mike and I arrived quickly and met up with Robin and the two Chrises.  We stood in the long and slowly moving line and Rich kept not showing up.  When we got to the doors Mike returned to the back of the line to wait for Rich while the rest of us went in and got a drink.  After a bit Rich and Mike entered and soon after Don and Alex joined the group.  We found a place in front of the soundboard and quickly the lights went down.

Like last time they opened with an instrumental, this time a song called Apostrophe.  Up next Ben Thomas came out to sing Montana.  His voice was so deep and Frank like it was eerie.  The band was perfect as last time and drifted out of the song through a whole bunch of instrumental pieces.  It was pretty obvious it would not be the fun engaging show it was last time but a much more musically focused experience.  Ben was a bit fun onstage but was nowhere near the showman that White was.

From there the show was an intense musical journey.  I did not know much of the material but was lost in the groove.  Dweezil has stepped up the guitar playing a bit more and really dominated the show.  The band was a bit leaner than last time and a bit more ferocious.  They really let go and rocked the house.

They played a powerhouse rocker from 200 Motels (I think it was Magic Fingers) that was pretty cool.  Black Page was fun with Ben dancing a bit.  They played on and on and I loved the songs I did not know.  After a bit they played Peaches and I realized we had reached midpoint in the show.  That was the most similar thing about this show and the last.

Next up they continued on with tons of material that was new and elating to me.  I loved every note and had a wonderful time.  They closed the set with a triple shot of Yellow Snow, Inca Roads and Cosmik Debris.

They returned to the stage with a heroes welcome from the full Higher Ground with an instrumental that became Zomby Woof.  They closed the night with Willie the Pimp and exhausted we made our way to the door.

While it did not have the sheer fun factor the last one had, it did have all of the musical chops and it forced them to be more in focus.  I was a tiny bit disappointed yet thrilled at the show I had just seen.  Later I went to Dweezil’s blog and read the story of Ray.  He was supposed to show up one day for rehearsals for a Japan Australia tour.  When no one could find him they checked e-mail and found that he had quit.  They got through the short tour and began looking for a singer for the Dream Theater tour.  The Higher Ground show was a day off that tour for ZPZ.  They had a few singers lined up and brought them in for auditions but on one could sing the songs.  A few days before they had to go Ben came in and nailed Inca Roads so they hired him.  This story has shaded my memory of the show in a much more favorable light and increases my admiration for the band.

Mike and I arrived home and hung out for a bit when Don showed up.  He was still way to keyed up from the show to go home and hung out for a while.  It was one of those nights that was challenging musically and pure fun otherwise.




1. Apostrophe 2. Montana – segue 3. Village Of The Sun – segue 4. Echidna’s Arf – segue 5. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? 6. Black Page 1 – segue 7. Black Page 2 – Rythmic Gymnastics (Ben’s Dance) 8. Magic Fingers – segue 9. Carolina Hardcore Ecstacy 10. Peaches En Regalia – segue 11. Gas Station – segue 12. San Berdino 13. Eat That Question 14. Bamboozled By Love# – segue 15. Pound For Brown 16. Yellow Snow – segue 17. Inca Roads 18. Cosmik Debris – Solos 1 Time Each

ENCORES: 19. Purple Lagoon – segue 20. Zomby Woof 21. More Trouble Everday – Token End 22. Bobby Brown*+ 23. Willie The Pimp*

# Owner Of A Lonely Heart Tease * Not on Setlist + First time sang by Ben Thomas



This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog,