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Banned From Utopia Review
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Banned From Utopia – The Scene, Swansea

Gig Review December 2014
No one can argue that Frank Zappa was a hugely influential and talented composer and musician, opening up a wide range of sounds and approaches as he delivered Avant-grade music that gained a huge following up to his untimely death on December 4, 1993. It was special that Banned From Utopia were delivering his music on the eve of the 21st Anniversary of his passing. Band From Utopia comprises an imposing line-up of artist who are immersed in Zappa’s music. Two lead singers up front are Ray White and Bobby Martin, who also played keys, French Horn and Saxophone, then Frank’s longest running drummer, Chad Wackerman. Tom Fowler on bass, Jamie Kime, guitar and vocals, and Albert Wing on Saxophone. Combining years of experience playing with Zappa, they definitely had the spirit of Frank with them tonight. Banned From Utopia refers to Frank Zappa’s album ‘The Man From Utopia.’ They bring the music alive with true freeform interpretation, and the packed house loved every note delivered.

The set list was magnificent, with a mix of the better known numbers and those that are truly difficult and eclectic: this is music to savour as you absorb the tones and interplay and let the music take you to a different dimension. BFU are the real deal. This is not a tribute reproducing note for note; they played with Zappa, and have a wealth of experience as to how Zappa shaped the concert so that it had a feeling that you were not sure what would happen next. This band, formed a year after Zappa’s death, put on a performance of music that was amazing, playing with passion, and they wanted the audience to enjoy every note and phrasing from all the instruments. This was a gig where you were entertained, from the opening note of Chunga’s Revenge, with an amazing Saxophone reprise from Albert Wing, through to the closing track from the second encore, Peaches En Regalia. Every song/instrumental was in the set list for a reason, and the conducting by Robert was fantastic as he asked the members to play louder, fuller, softer, harder.

This is not a band, it is an orchestra of sound. We had audience participation, and even some getting up on stage to emulate Bobby with the conducting. Anything goes when Banned From Utopia come to Swansea, including Ray having the opportunity to use the guitar played and made famous by the great Welsh guitarist Mickey Jones, the founder and constant member of Man. The highlights for me were Jamie’s guitar playing on Zomby Woof, the collective skills on City of Tiny Lights and a divine cover of the Allman Brothers Whipping Post. They played for two and half hours, gave the packed house two encores and we wanted more, but sadly the concert was ended, with the cleverness, invention and the essence of Zappa ringing in our ears.

Band Members

Robert (Bobby) Martin – Frank Zappa 1981-88 – vocals, keyboards, sax, French horn
Ray White – Frank Zappa 1978-84 – vocals, guitar
Tom Fowler– Frank Zappa 1973-75 – Bass
Albert Wing – Frank Zappa 1988 – Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax
Chad Wackerman – Frank Zappa 1981-88 – Drums
Jamie Kime – Zappa Plays Zappa 2006-12 – Guitar, vocals

For upcoming tour dates and for ticket and event info click here:   Robert (Bobby) Martin Facebook Fan Page

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