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Review Wed Oct 03 2012

Review: ZZ Top @ Chicago Theatre, 10/2

There are not many bands who can open a show with what's essentially a movie trailer featuring themselves and a girl with plenty of curves in the right places. But there also aren't many bands who've branded themselves like ZZ Top has over their 43-year career. Is there anyone who follows rock music who can't pick out the trio with the bearded guitarists and non-bearded drummer from a lineup? The images that the band's produced, especially with the aid of MTV, were featured prominently at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday with retrospective videos projected in the background.

An opening series of songs sequenced into each other closed with the obviously popular "Jesus Just Left Chicago" that had the crowd singing along. Frontmen Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill played off that momentum with some of the band's signature choreography of side-stepping and showboating during guitar soloing. But it was the followup "Pincushion" that displayed their talent with some of their best guitar work of the night. Hill did some fancy two-handed tapping and Gibbons went to autopilot for a long solo. (They've been playing the same set night after night, so it's pretty much automatic by now.) In a comical move for a band with so much material, Gibbons asked permission to play a song from their new album. Then they followed with a charged "Gimme All Your Lovin'."

Aside from a few moments, the crowd was sort of lifeless for most of the set. People nodded along with the music, but even for an older crowd it was a tame reception. "My Head's in Mississippi" (changed to "Illinois" briefly) and "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" barely registered apart from cognitive applause. "Sharp Dressed Man" finally injected energy into the room and even got the lights up for an inevitable singalong in the chorus. At the hour-point, they closed with "Legs" (heavily featuring the music video on the screens). Out for an encore in Nudie suits, though, they brought out the best with lots of soloing and catering to the crowd with the popular hits "La Grange" and "Tush." Still, the show only lasted 75 minutes and they barely seemed to have broken a sweat when they exited. But while on stage there was a lot of hard rocking and a good chunk of blues that was exactly what anyone would expect at a ZZ Top show.

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Gary / October 3, 2012 1:32 PM

I personally thought the show was awsome being 5 row right of center. I heard complaints that the show was so short, but it is not how long the show was, but the energy put into the show. These guys are in their mid 60's so give them credit they can still perform at the level they are. & oh yeah the sound engineer too deserve's his credit. right out of the box the sound was amazing. the only 2 issues I have 1 being 9 years to make their new disc, it would of been nice nice to here more than 1 track. Having the disc there are quite a number of tunes that would have been nice to hear live. 2nd the security trying to prevent everyone with a smart phone form recording & taking pictures. I was singled out to put my phone away while other to the left & right , front & back of me continued to click away. Hard to stop modern technology when we all have it.

James Z / October 3, 2012 2:34 PM

That's a good point about the sound, Gary. It sure did sound terrific last night.

But I can't agree on "not how long the show [is], but the energy put into" it. If that's the case, then every band would just play balls out for 20 minutes. I understand ZZ Top's older now and even that a lot of their gigs are co-headlined or even as an opener, which would give them shorter sets. But when they're the only act of the evening and they have such a rich history, 75 minutes is cutting it really short and I think the people who complained have a valid point.

Gary / October 4, 2012 10:00 AM

Hi James, This is true, after a bit of reflection & checking my budget (LOL) The lil ole band from Texas could of / should of given the full monte. Considering the cost of tickets ... they could of split they show into 2 sets with a short intermission in bertween so we could re-fill our beers (LOL). I must interject here an excellent example Is Joe Bonamassa. He plays non-stop but his band mates have time for a short rest period when Joe picks up his acoustic guitar. But he does give the fans our $$$ worth. Maybe Billy & the Boys will rethink for other cities. To promote a new disc that took 9 years in the making, they should of play all tracks, then comback after a break and play all the hits. I remember seeing David Gilmore when he released "On an Island" That is how he performed his show. I need to end it here, or it will turn intp a Rant & Rave.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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