Mothers – Almost A Freak Out, Not A Love In, Definitely A Send-up!

By Nick Jones

Melody Maker, September 30, 1967

FOR one delicious moment the Royal Albert Hall seemed to glow with an all enveloping smile uniting everybody within its walls. Almost a freak-out. Not a love-in. Most definitely a send-up.

The hall rocked with laughter and applause as awkward penguins (allegedly members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra) in full evening dress insanely staggered about the stage like controlled puppets, dancing together, and at a word from Frank Zappa, leader of the Mothers Of Invention, even rolled up their sheet music and blew loud raspberries.

As Zappa coolly said "Music can be fun too."

Without doubt this the debut of the Mothers in England, was one of the greatest live performances to have shaken this earth on this side of the Atlantic for a long long time. The eight or so Mothers on stage had a hall.

You can feel that they're digging, and their sheer maturity, experience, and confidence adds shattering depth to their stage presence. Secondly the Mothers are fine musicians. This, perhaps, was one of the most outstanding facets of these musical curios from the American jungle.

Zappa on electric guitar is a sympathetic and creative mastermind behind everything the Mothers do. He obviously is out to take the Mothers to the top. For the group to rehearse for a whole week just to do this one show is proof he means business,

"There is the mighty and majestic Royal Albert Hall Pipe Organ," said Zappa coolly as the audience fell about. Mother Don leapt from the stage and like a mischievous ape clambered up the balconies high above and settled into the organ nook. He fumbled about in the darkness – got a rousing ovation when he found the light switch and settled in.

Zappa hitched his breeches and drawled into the mike: "Play something for the kids, Don, play something that'll really sock it to 'em – like 'Louie Louie!' " And lo – true to his word – the giant Royal Albert Hall pipe organ burst forth with life and "Louie Louie." Ad lib laughter for the rest of the concert.

During the evening very few people can have avoided Zappa's verbal or musical axe. The Supremes and "Baby Love" was the subject of much hilarity, so too the Doors, so too most of American society, flower power, and finally the Mothers quite happily send up both themselves and their audience.

As a colleague said: " They're about two years too early."

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