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Re: Frank Zappa 1984 tour 30th anniversary extravaganza
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 12:10:57 AM »
Tuesday, 24 July, 1984
Open Air Theatre, San Diego State University, San Diego, California


Secret words: matches, tunnel


Set lists

Main show

Zoot Allures
Tinsel Town Rebellion
Oh No
Trouble Every Day
Penguin in Bondage
Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel
Dumb All Over
The Evil Prince
Be in My Video
Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy
Advance Romance
He's So Gay
Bobby Brown
Keep It Greasey
Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?
Carol You Fool
Chana in De Bushwop
Kreega Bondola
Why Don't You Like Me?

First encore

The Closer You Are
Johnny Darling
No No Cherry

Second encore

Dancin' Fool
Cosmik Debris


Review

The first concert away from home, so to speak, is a mostly routine show with a light sprinkling of secret words. The tape it's committed to isn't bad, but is very bass-heavy, which has the result of muffling the rest of the sound. It would probably be more listenable with a little EQ tweaking, although I prefer to listen to these tapes raw when reviewing.

Before playing anything, Frank decides to warn the audience that the show contains "very strong language and things having to do with body functions". He asks any members of the audience for whom that material "makes you vomit, or makes you think that you just might go to Hell" to leave, "because we wouldn't want to harm you".

During the band intros, Frank introduces Ray as "a legend in his own time", because "if you ever have to use the toilet after Ray White -- where's that book(?) of matches -- take these with you!" And thus, the secret word for tonight is born. Many of the "matches" references tonight are followed up with "tunnel" references, although I don't quite understand the connection, so I've listed both as secret words.

From here onwards, the show proceeds mostly uneventfully, with mostly average performances and average guitar solos. These performances would likely be easier to appreciate on a clearer tape, because as it is, Scott's groovy bass lines dominate all else and make it difficult to make out the finer details of everyone else's performances.

The show starts to pick up in Be in My Video, where Frank turns the last line into "and then we'll dance your matches", following it up with "mercy flush" just before the segue into Carolina. Advance Romance also has its fair share of secret word abuse, with Ike throwing in a few "matches" references during the "she might do you too" section before the guitar solo, a part of the song that would be a frequent breeding ground for secret words as the tour goes on.

The fourth verse of Advance Romance turns "he opened three of his eyes" into "he opened three of his matches", but after that, the band goes back to straight renditions for while. Frank has some silly fun with the "uh-oh" line in He's So Gay and begins changing up the rhythm of his lines in the first verse of Bobby Brown, another frequent practice as the tour proceeds. The end of Keep It Greasey brings the first reference to "tunnel" for tonight, with Ike calling in the segue to the next song with "here comes that screamin' tunnel sound again".

Frank is enjoying having fun with his vocal parts tonight, as he rambles on (mostly inaudibly) about Carol meeting another engineer during the last part of Carol You Fool. This keeps up in the second verse of Chana, where Frank has completely changed the second verse into fragmented phrases. It now goes "she has a / and then she looks like / later on she / and it was very difficult to".

The musical highlight of this show, though, comes in Frank's Kreega Bondola solo, where halfway through the band suddenly moves to a shuffle vamp which I find very reminiscent of the '78 arrangement of Suicide Chump. Frank soars over this new accompaniment for a couple of minutes, producing some unusually bluesy improvisation in the midst of an otherwise musically mundane show. This is also a fine taster of the show-to-show variation that would come later in the tour in this solo spot.

It's over all too soon, though, and the band returns to the Kreega head as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Then we get another Why Don't You Like Me?, sounding much more solid and enjoyable than it did a week ago.

Frank comes back out for the first encore and begins introducing the next song by way of saying that it's a great American tradition to fall in love during the summer. He gets interrupted at the most amusing possible time during this speech: "love is the driving force of the Universe -- oh, those are the largest underpants we've ever had thrown onto the stage!"

Someone has passed up a note with their underpants, which Frank reads out: "Show us your tits, Frank -- Mary from the bus". Frank obliges, commenting that "somebody is desperate for entertainment out there". The band continues with some mildly amusing banter; Ike says "where's this Mary?", Frank responds with "where's the beef?", and then expertly brings us full circle through the shows secret words ("where's the matches? where's that tunnel?") and into the next song ("where's that B flat that starts this song off?"), at which point the band immediately launches into The Closer You Are.

Aside from Frank finishing the first verse with "Mary from the bus", we then get a surprisingly straight rendition of this tour's '50s medley, but this medley is always enjoyable no matter how uninteresting the rest of the concert. The second encore is equally straight, except for Frank's closing monologue in Dancin' Fool, which includes a reference to Why Don't You Like Me? ("do you come here often, and if so, why are you trying to be a lawyer?") and various other permutations ("love your moustache", "You're Jewish? Do you have any matches?").

This show is mostly routine. Aside from some very rarefied secret word appearances and an interesting deviation in Kreega Bondola, it doesn't have much to offer, and the recording quality isn't spectacular either. Do yourself a favour and look elsewhere.

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