Southern blues/rock icons ZZ Top brought their successful “Rebels and Bandoleros” Tour to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday with a simple setup designed to focus squarely on the music. And on Saturday it was a night of gruff vocals, loud guitars, twang and southern rock.
Long gone are the multi-level stages with varying numbers of props, cars and girls of tours past.
Those tours were designed for excess and bringing bigger than life personas to a fan base that expected such. Now, ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons – guitar/vocals, Dusty Hill – bass/vocals, and Frank Beard – drummer) performs with a very stripped down stage set that had merely Beard’s drum kit, two mic stands, 2 small video screens on either side of Beard, and a giant screen above him. Clearly the onus is on the music as opposed to the fluff.
From the opening video sequence introducing the band, ZZ Top made their way to the stage and kicked things off with a trio of “I Thank You”, “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” with nary a break to catch a breath.
The band, who have been around for more than 40 years (a rarity when you consider all of their original members are still in the band) delved deep into their archive with songs like the rowdy “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” to their newest single, the gritty “I Gotsa Get Paid” from their first CD in nearly a decade, “La Futura” which was just released last week.
Though Gibbons voice has gotten more and more gruff as the years have worn on, his sound is as snarly as ever, which, in cases of blues/rock, works perfectly. Coupled with each members masterwork on their respective instruments the band was as tight as ever. Gibbons was the only one who openly displayed his chops on the guitar, and even played part of a solo with just one hand (no, he wasn’t tapping).
By the time the band ripped into the oh so familiar chords of songs like ”Legs”, “Gimmie All Your Lovin”, “Sharp Dressed Man”, “Tush”and “La Grange” there was not enough time to recover from the previous song before the next one took hold.
The crowd was enthralled with the selection, though some fans were bound to be disappointed by one of their favorite songs left off the setlist. But, to make everyone happy they would have to play for 4 or 5 hours. With the selection Saturday, it was hard to be disappointed.
Lynyrd Skynyrd played a rockin’ 1 hour 15 minute set that showcased a large sound, southern country/rock, Confederate battle flags, American patriotism, and everyone’s favorite concert request – “Free Bird”.
Along the way with songs like “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Saturday Night Special” and “Simple Man” would usually be enough to party with any crowd. But after “Simple Man” lead singer Johnny Van Zant thought the crowd was a little stale, imploring them to get up and rock. At one point Van Zant said “I feel like I need to wake you people up!”
With their sound tight and the guitars loud there should have been no prompting needed.
ZZ Top Setlist:
1) I Thank You (Sam & Dave cover)
2) Waitin’ for the Bus
3) Jesus Just Left Chicago
5) I Heard it on the X
6) I Gotsa Get Paid
7) Gimmie All your Lovin’
8) Vincent Price blues
9) My Head’s in Mississippi (sung as My Head’s in Missouri)
10) Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
13) Tube Snake Boogie
14) La Grange
Lynyrd Skynyrd Setlist:
1) Last of a Dyin’ Breed
2) What’s Your Name
3) Down South Junkin’
4) That Smell
5) Saturday Night Special
6) I Know a Little
7) Simple Man
8) Good Teacher
9) Gimmie Three Steps
10) Call Me the Breeze (J.J. Cale cover)
11) Sweet Home Alabama
12) Free Bird