Live: ZZ Top at Hard Rock Live, June 8
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Friday, June 8, 2011
Better Than: Insert beard reference here.
Certain artists get relegated to the dusty and chilly (maybe you should bring a windbreaker, like your audience did) world of the nostalgia category. However lucky these artists are -- considering the disposable nature of music in the last 20 years -- some find it a rough position, and cope accordingly. This could mean falling off the face of the earth like Sly Stone, or having a mid-life crisis like Eric Clapton did with a Babyface Edmonds produced album and a stint man-cougar'ing the likes of Sheryl Crow. However, the ideal solution in any matter of age is to do so with grace. ZZ Top completely exemplified the perfect "age gracefully" scenario with their performance last night.
were conceived to a cassette of Eliminator, waited patiently through
the ultra-rehearsed, ultra-forgettable bar band opener until
8:33 p.m. when the beards hit the stage -- their trademark facial hair blowing proudly in the simulated wind and smokescreen
as as American flag blew atop the bridge of a battleship. I'd like to
think they represent the same thing, no?
course of the first few songs, opening with a rather hesitant rendition
of "Got Me Under Pressure," however by the fourth song, 1994's "Pin
Cushion," the trio had dug in deep and were intent on reminding everyone
in attendance just how good the best three chord blues band in the world
really is. Classic ZZ Top schtick ran rampant through the show, Billy
and Dusty's stage strutting still as in sync as ever. At one
point, a fetching young lady in lingerie brought Billy his matching
"blues hat" to counter the one Dusty wore, and yes, they even broke out a
pair of fluffy guitars towards the end of the set.
guitar aficionados on hand could rejoice in the general lack of
synth-era material as it gave The Reverend Billy G plenty of room to
bend and pinch all of the piss and vinegar out of the strings on his
custom built Bolin Gretsch style guitars while
Dusty Hill and Frank Beard held down the rhythmic fort with the utmost
of style and ease. They make it look so unbelievably easy, and more
importantly, appear to still have a very good time doing so. Never a
band to take themselves too seriously, Billy Gibbons prodded a bit at
their age, cleverly mentioning their time together with-in the guise of a
weed joke ("We've been going green for about 40 years") followed by his
introducing a Willie Brown cover as a song they had written themselves
in 1932. These guys still play their instruments very well, but it was surprising how on-point the singing was. Dusty in
particular still belts his songs out like he's earning his beer money
with his vocal chords.
greasy grooves that have been this band's bread and butter since jump
street are still potent enough to be the epitome of cool and remain free
of irony in my book, and while they may tune a little lower, and drive a
little slower, ZZ Top can still shake down a blues boogie like nobody
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