ZZ Top Rocks Victoria

Originally published in CVV Magazine on April 10, 2016

Legendary Texas rockers ZZ Top played the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday, April 8.

The two boys from Texas came on to a stage lit by a huge LED backdrop to look like a starry night, and two massive stacks of white, pink, and green speakers on either side of drummer Frank Beard’s impressive double-kick-drum Tiki-themed kit.

Photos by Dean Kaylan

With no introduction from main man Billy Gibbons, they jumped right into it, opening with Eliminator’s “Got Me Under Pressure.” ZZ Top is arena-filling rock at its very best—that fat guitar sound and strong rhythm section makes you feel a sense of excitement and anticipation, like when a hockey team first skates out onto the ice. It’s the reason politicians will often use classic rock to pump people up for rallies, or as exit music to keep people excited to vote after they’ve left the stage.

But there’s nothing political about ZZ Top; their best songs speak purely to the people. “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” from their classic 1973 album Tres Hombres in some ways epitomize the group’s bluesy, soulful sound. “Are you having a good time?” Gibbons growled at the audience in his deep, hoarse voice before launching into another big Eliminator single, “Gimme All Your Lovin.’”

Gibbons and his bass-playing counterpart and doppelganger Dusty Hill had some corny dance moves, though, for some of the coolest-looking rockers alive, and much of their set consisted of them trying to communicate, side by side, and then swinging their guitars back and forth in sync as they played. Gibbons had tried to modernize his look with some skinny jeans and a fitted leather jacket, but the choreographed dance moves ended up making them look less than cool.

“I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” and “Pincusion” segued into “I Gotsta Get Paid” and “Flying High” from 2012’s La Futura, the latter sounding strangely like a classic 80s pop hit. The trio then played a couple of killer covers—namely Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” and then took it down a notch to “play some blues” in what turned out to be a cover of Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues.” The band then finished their set with a barrage of hits, including Degüello’s “Cheap Sunglasses,” and perhaps their best known song, “Sharp Dressed Man,” also from 1983’s Eliminator.

The band closed out their regular set with “Legs,” but came back on quite quickly to raucous cheers from the crowd to play an encore performance of “La Grange,” a favorite for many Top fans. They stopped mid-performance, inciting more cheers from the audience, before playing an extended version of the song that is often referred to as “Sloppy Drunk Jam.” They finished their performance with “Tush,” the last track from 1975’s Fandago! leaving the audience with the sentiment “Lord, take me downtown / I’m just lookin’ for some tush.”

Overall, ZZ Top’s second-ever performance in Victoria was a success, and fans were treated to all the greatest hits the Texas rockers have in their canon, albeit with some corny dance moves. However, even after all these years, they’ve still somehow managed to stay cool.

Check out the full set-list below.

1. Got Me Under Pressure
2. Waitin’ for the Bus
3. Jesus Just Left Chicago
4. Gimme All Your Lovin’
5. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
6. Pincushion
7. I Gotsta Get Paid
8. Flyin’ High
9. Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
10. Catfish Blues (Robert Petway cover)
11. Cheap Sunglasses
12. My Head’s in Mississippi
13. Chartreuse
14. Sharp Dressed Man
15. Legs

Encore:

16. La Grange / Sloppy Drunk Jam
17. Tush

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