Dweezil Zappa vs. Roger Waters

December 7, 2010 at 11:33 am | Posted in Audio, Concert, Digital, Jazz, Rock, Theater/Theatre, Vocal | 3 Comments
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I wasn’t going to blog either of these shows, because they are both so epic that you really have to be there to get it. Then, I realized something. I’m not one of those people that uses the word epic on a daily basis; I must have something blog-worthy. So, here we go…

The Music
     Both shows feature decades old music written by highly respected, highly talented composers. Each features complex instrumental arrangements with uncommon instruments. Both feature horns, keyboards (analog and digital). Multiple vocal parts are present in each. Drums were tight, loud and crisply gated at each show. Both drummers were highly skilled. I’d say they are deft at keeping meter in both standard times, and random timings that only people with years of experience, or Master’s degrees in music, even know what it is called. 6/16th time with augmented triplets or some such…but I’m guessing. Guitar players are both highly capable. Dweezil got to show off a few more styles; due to the fluid nature of Frank Zappa’s composition – but the guys in Roger’s band played note for note as the album dictated. Overall music from each was an exceptionally clear sonic wall.

Both Winners.

The Visuals
     Roger Waters brings bleeding-edge projection technology to an arena and projects incredible animations from Gerald Scarfe, superbly edited movies, and pictures of soldiers from fans around the world; onto a giant wall which gets built brick by brick as the show progresses. The video projectors are capable of momentarily transporting you into another dimension, I’m pretty sure. There are video technologies in play at this show that I’m sure originated in Area 51.
     Dweezil Zappa had 3 screens that occcasionally projected time-synced (to the live concert) remastered film footage of his dad. The footage was great, the timing was perfect. The restoration work (or was it just great preservation?) on it was superb.

Winner: Roger Waters. Sorry Dweezil. Roger outgunned you massively on this one, but he was dealing with a much bigger venue. The scale leaned in his favor from the start, and I took that into consideration. Even with the scale handicap – he just plain outgunned you.

The Sound
     Impeccable. I can assure you I am intimately familar with The Wall. I must also admit that I was not very familiar with ‘ Apostrophe. I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. I only own one Frank Zappa Album; Quadiophiliac. However, it is in on DVD Audio; remastered by Dweezil in multi-channel surround, as was originally specified Frank.
     Everyone involved in projects by Waters or Zappa is the “cream of the crop”. Whether they be technicians, musicians, vocalists or personal assistants – I am positive they are held to the highest standards of excellence. I’m sure it doesn’t matter if they are making coffee or tweaking a knob on a 96/24 audio console; everything has to be spot on. There are no shortcuts. Dedication to audio perfectionism requires state of the art gear, tweaked by technical experts and massaged by audio artists. Both shows had this in spades. Since Dweezil was playing a much more intimate show, I can’t knock him for not bringing the Qadrophonic rig like Waters did. I’m not even sure Frank envisioned this material as multi-channel. The balls-on stereo imaging present at the Zappa show more than made up for the lack of quad.

Both Winners.

The Emotions
     Roger brings with him a personal tale of fear, regret, disconnectedness and an anti-establishment world view. I can relate to that. I get the story. I love the story. I’ve seen it on the big screen, small screen, mid-sized screens and now on Ultra-Huge screens. Great story. Emotionally charged. Power packed.
     Zappa’s tales are a bit more fun. Uplifting and whimsical at times. Dreamy and surreal. At one point, as Dweezil did a bit of improv on the guitar; he effortlessly played an instantly recognizable Jimmy Page riff. It was a fleeting, joyous moment. I felt a tear well up and roll out of the corner of my eye as I had an epiphany. Concerts at this level of musicianship aren’t always about the spectacle…they are about the music, and how it can transcend time and space.

Winner: Zappa

So, there you have it folks. Big vs Small. Grand vs Intimate. Composer against composer. A tie. All things considered; either of these shows beats out any other plans for the night you might have had. You really have to see them to believe them. I can’t describe just how well both of these guys were able to capture a moment in time, bottle it and preserve it to be released upon an unsuspecting (or anxiously awaiting) public decades later. They are both incredible shows. Zappa and Waters – I salute you both.
 

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Hot Pockets – A Guest Blog Post by Nicole Dunn

December 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Blogging, Review | 1 Comment
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

hot pockets…

Last night Jordan and I got to go see Jim Gaffigan at the Comerica (previously dodge) theater.

I was excited to see Gaffigan live because I had been following him as a comic even before he had Comedy Central Specials or Cd’s. His timing and delivery are classic.

This was a show with all new material, which is probably why the security told everyone at the door ” no pictures or video, not even on your cell phone”. There was one opening act by a comic named Jordan Rubin. He had an interesting style. He would pause in between his jokes to make it seem like he forgot what he was going to say and it would make the next punchline seem random, but it all came together. He had a good joke that hit well with the audience about the rapper Mystikal. He did a good job of warming up the crowd for Gaffigan.

Gaffigan’s act did not disappoint for the long time fans and roped in new fans. The main focus of his act was about working out (or lack there of), the gym, the glory and disgust of McDonald’s, the facade that is Subway, hotel living and hotel indoor pools, and whales. It seems like a far leap from talking about the creepy guy who stares at the women on the hip abductor machines to whale blubber but it flowed seamlessly. The show kept the audience engaged and laughing in hysterics. It was a well timed show, lasting about an hour and half. Gaffigan left the stage and the audience cheered for an encore and without disappointment, he came out and gave the crowd what they wanted to hear….the hot pockets skit. He added new some material to the older, adored jokes about the microwave favorite. He even threw in a shout out to bacon, which was a big focus in his last special “King Baby”; it was subtle but it got a big reaction.

As a long time fan, I loved his new stuff. Jordan made a good observation about how, for the most part, his act is pretty clean as far as comics nowadays goes. Even though it isn’t packed full of swear words and filth, his jokes are relatable and hilarious. I’ll watch this special over and over again when it comes out on cable.

via phoenix dunn family.

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