Tuesday evening at the Southbank Centre in London saw the UK Premiere Of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. In 1971 the then 30 year old Frank Zappa was about to perform 200 Motels in the Royal Albert Hall. However, just a few days before the concert the Royal Albert Hall cancelled the show citing obscenities in the show as the reason. More than 40 years Frank finally got his wish, notwithstanding he never got the apology from the Queen that he said was needed before he would ever perform in the UK again.
It was a great occasion celebrating some great music! The audience, with an estimated average age that was dangerously close to 60 was clearly enjoying themselves, especially those who had bought tickets for the original show in 1971! The standing ovation lasted several minutes and we went home satisfied and in my case wondering what else Zappa could have created for us had he lived longer.
The evening started with an unscheduled reading/performance of the art of Zappa’s autobiography that dealt with the trial at the Old Bailey. Then there was a discussion lead by Gillian Moore (South Bank director of classical music) by with Gail Zappa, Scott Thunes, Joe Travers (drummer and Vaultmeister) and Jurjen Hempel. Some interesting stuff and good anecdotes.
The concert itself was very good too. The complexity of the music was clear and it provided a multi-layered listening experience. Some interesting performers: Jay Rayner (the Observer’s restaurant critic) and Diva Zappa (Frank’s youngest daughter) and Claron McFadden a very good soprano taking the role originally written for Cathy Berberian (who was married to Luciano Berio and a friend/kindred spirit of Frank Zappa.)
Here is one of the original radio commercials for the film: