VIENNA, VA, September 18, 2013 — Wolf Trap devotees attending the Filene Center’s last show of the 2013 season got a heavy duty dose of the Texas blues from the “same three guys playing the same three chords” for the past four decades.
I can’t really prescribe to that simple of an on-stage musical analysis from lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons, as ZZ Top has earned its mettle for melodic complexity and certainly held together a consistency in its ranks that any band would admire.
Complete with bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, the power trio helped introduce swinging rock blues to the MTV Generation back in the 1980s.
Last week’s performance was workmanlike in that few words were spoken and the group’s instruments did the loud talking.
Dusty and Billy’s persona of life-sized gnomes with long beards, shades and hats continue to look Muppet-like (especially when Billy flashes his pearly whites).
The pair strategically sprinkled in dance moves that a turtle would admire during many a song while the methodical Frank puffed on the occasional cigarette from behind his kit, maintaining a seemingly disinterested persona all night.
The addition of a pair of on stage video monitors, in position where amplifiers might reside, played multimedia shorts that helped fuel the band’s humorous lyrics and songs celebrating the female form, appreciation of liquor and enjoyment of various smokeable plants.
Within a 75-minute set encompassing two encores, ZZ Top simmered through 16 songs playing near every hit in the bands illustrious career and not afraid to showcase some newer songs.
Hard core fans were not disappointed with the band ripping into its early 1970s successes such as “Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “La Grange” and “Tush” and the 1980s mega hits that propelled them to legends status including “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”
Newer songs (being in the last two decades) such as “I Gotsa Get Paid,” “Flyin’ High” and “Pincushion” were warmly welcomed but a strong version of “Foxy Lady” kept the crowd excited between the mega-hits.
Later into the set, the two stringed instrumentalist strapped on fur covered axes and played the classic “Legs” with its familiar music video equivalent playing on the screens behind them.
The night concluded with Texas style version of “Jailhouse Rock,” a worthy ode to the King.
For three guys averaging the ripe old age of 64, ZZ Top kept the pedal to the metal all night and made blues lovers of the sold out crowd.
Wolf Trap presented an eclectic series of great music all summer and they ended, as they began, on a high note.
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