Credit: Heinrich Klaffs

Remembering when Frank Zappa brought the Capitol Theatre to its knees in 1978

Frank Zappa’s takeover in 1978 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, has become something of a legend amongst Zappa fans—and for good reason, the musician cementing his legacy during that famed October night.

Zappa was joined by a stellar backing band on the evening with Denny Walley providing assistance on the slide guitar and vocals, Ike Willis on guitar, Patrick O’Hearn and Arthur Barrow both on bass duties, Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf both on keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums with Ed Mann operating percussion.

The show kicked off in euphoric fashion with the epic ‘Persona Non-Grata’ which was the first of 13 songs that the Port Chester crowd would be treated to from Zappa during the show. He then led his band through a consummate performance of the soon to be Grammy-nominated ‘Dancin’ Fool’ that would end up on 1979s Sheik Yerbouti, which captured the live ferocity that Zappa created on stage.

The East Coast crowd were then wooed by Zappa’s visceral rendition of ‘Easy Meat’ into ‘Bamboozled By Love’ into ‘Sy Borg’ from Joe’s Garage and also the splendid ‘Little House I Used To Live In’ made it into his setlist that evening.

The Capitol Theatre was somewhat of a stomping ground of Zappa throughout the ’70s and in 1974 following the release of Apostrophe which was his highest-charting album in the States. What made this event even more special, was that Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were joined by ZZ Top and T Rex on the bill that evening.

Tickets cost just $6 and fans were promised that each show will last around two and a half hours with the pair of concerts beginning at 8:00pm and 11:30pm respectively.

The 1978 show would see Zappa return to the scene of the crime of the 1974 performances which had made him become a poignant part of the building’s history and he would only add to his legacy with his later performance.

The whole show was thankfully filmed as Zappa anticipated that the concert would be a special night and he certainly puts in a performance in for the cameras which captures him at the absolute peak of his powers as well as at the zenith of his immense creativity.

Check out the performance and the setlist below.

Frank Zappa’s Setlist

0:00:00 – ‘Persona Non-Grata’
0:13:37 – ‘Dancin’ Fool’
0:17:00 – ‘Easy Meat’
0:23:37 – ‘Bamboozled By Love’
0:31:06 – ‘Sy Borg’
0:35:47 – ‘Suicide Chump’
0:45:25 – ‘Little House I Used To Live In’
0:52:17 – ‘Zeets (Drum Solo)’
0:56:00 – ‘Yo Mama Incomplete’
1:06:18 – ‘Magic Fingers’
1:10:19 – ‘Black Napkins Incomplete’
1:26:40 – ‘Camarillo Brillo’
1:30:10 – ‘Muffin Man’
1:35:05- ‘Strictly Genteel’

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