The Zawinul Syndicate European tour began with a concert in Amsterdam, Holland last night. Tony Wawryk sent me this report.
Last night’s show at Melkweg, which seats about 800-1000 people, was sold out and steaming! Hard to believe Joe Zawinul is 70 this year! Still, if he keeps surrounding himself with musicians like the current line up, they’ll keep him going another decade at least. First time I’d been exposed to Amit Chatterjee and Etienne M’Bappe live—what players! I have had the great good fortune to see Weather Report a number of times, particularly at their peak (IMO) in the mid to late 70s, and although JZ has not found , nor is he likely to find, another partner like Wayne to bounce off, these guys will more than do! And Joe certainly makes them earn their keep. I was about 5 meters from the stage and had a marvelous view of the interaction between the players, and the way they kept their eyes on Joe while he led them through the changes was a joy to behold, especially his small gestures of appreciation as one or other of the band hit the spot.
There seemed to be a couple of minor technical hiccups with the keyboards, possibly due to the heat in the venue, possibly due to it being the first date of the tour. Joe also cut his hand/wrist on an edge during the very first number, and required plasters to keep from bleeding on the keyboards. Didn’t stop him, though! A couple of new pieces (names not announced) were played—if they’re on the new album it bodes well—and there were some Weather Report quotes: "Port of Entry" with some fabulous bass from M’Bappe, and Badrena reprised to a degree at least, his duet with Alex Acuna ("Rumba Mama" from Heavy Weather), but this time with Paco Sery, whose birthday was yesterday also. He got a rousing cheer from the crowd, who clearly had a great time, and evidently so did the band.