Live Reviews

Pygmy Twylyte – Manchester Club Academy: Live Review

Pygmy Twylyte, the finest purveyors of the music of Frank Zappa, show why they are a class act on a rare trip to Manchester.

Pygmy Twylyte have been playing the music of Frank Zappa for a good few years now. They have had a few changes in the ranks but the current line up, augmented by a special brass section, is a winner. We welcomed the band to our pages earlier in the year (read here) and could not wait to see the band in full flow.

Two sets, a wide range of material, unashamed larking around, plenty of joviality and an insatiable love for a musical genius coalesce to make for a superb night of music. Cuts range from Hot Rats to Over Nite Sensation, Roxy/Elsewhere to You Can’t Do That On Stage, One Size Fits All to ‘Drowning Witch’ and plenty of other signposts on the way all make an appearance.

Taking the stage to G-Spot Tornado (from Jazz From Hell), the band fly into a beefy version of Florentine Pogen that sharply segues into Dirty Love. Immediately, it is clear these guys can play. There are no half measures. Camarillo Brillo is an early highlight however a show stopping Son Of Orange County is one that really hits the spot. Chris’ solo during the song is hot; singer Jim tries to fan the flames with a copy of the setlist. The temperature in the venue is already at a sticky level; this kind of musical fire only fans the flames.

By their own admission, the band thought they’d only sold 100 tickets…but come show time, they had shifted double and change and the crowd in Manchester lap up every note, lyric and lick throughout the epic set. Reference is made to a previous show in Manchester at Night & Day; naturally, there are returning punters.

Gumbo Variations allows different members of the band to showcase their individual skill, as well as allowing the band to stretch out a little. Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy also involves a playful nature. Sabbath riffs and animated vocals showcase the entertainment that this band offer.

Early Zappa ‘hit’, Trouble Every Day, is still wildly pertinent in message, and is delivered by Pygmy Twylyte to perfection. One of the joys of Frank Zappa is that there is so much material to plunder. Of all the songs, on all the albums, this writer would never have picked Ride My Face To Chicago getting an airing. The same could be said for Teen-Age Prostitute. The latter allowing sax player Hebe to showcase her dynamic vocal skills.

It is Hebe that is the showstopper in the second half of the set with her solo for City Of Tiny Lights. Whilst faithful in form, Pygmy Twylyte rearrange certain parts to play with tempo changes and styles. Refreshing. Hebe is one of three sax players in the band with Steve and Paddy both offering solos throughout the evening.

‘He’s putting the serious guitar on now,’ says Jim as Chris swaps his axe for Outside Now from Joe’s Garage. His guitar solo is phenomenal and the chemistry he holds with bassist Jon is clear. Chris orchestrates the band throughout as Euan holds pace on drums and Ben adds colour on the keys.

Indeed chemistry is something that this group hold a lot of. A hulking rendition of Black Napkins gives way to a dynamite run of songs to close proceedings. Joe’s Garage, Cosmic Debris, Whipping Post and the mighty Muffin Man are met with adulation. All are joyous and go another step to showcasing the genius of Frank Zappa. Frank could have written a slew of hit songs if he wanted to…he just chose his own path. These songs are hits to fans and the crowd show their love for the band as well as the music.

In-between sets, Pygmy Twylyte are amongst the crowd chatting and selling merch. They offer a shout out from the stage from recently met punters, and are more than happy to chat. This is a true musical love in.

With times hard and darkness in the world, these are the kinds of nights you need. Disappear into a different world with like minded folk and let the absurdity wash over you. It is criminal that Pygmy Twylyte are not playing festivals up and down the land as they would be perfect for many an afternoon in the right setting.

Please come back to Manchester soon!

To read the set that Pygmy Twylyte played, you can click here. Check out Son Of Orange County from Frank Zappa below.

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3 replies »

  1. So great to know that the music of the great FZ is being preserved – and elaborated upon – so respectfully! If, as Dom requests, they do return to Manchester sooner rather than later, I’m already determined to be stood alongside him. And probably alongside his dad too!!

  2. Great show , it’s the second time I’ve seen them and they do not disappoint, I brought 2 of Mt brothers this time and they loved it too ( and we got a shout out , the Cartwright brothers ) . I am off to Zappanale , a Zappa themed festival in Germany , next month , to get another shot of Zappa inspired magic . Music is the best .

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