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MUSIC: ZZ Top Rocks Twin River

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 

“We’re the same three guys, playing the same three chords,” announced ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons about midway through their Twin River show; perfect news for the enthusiastic crowd that joined them Friday night.

It’s a formula that worked well, when the “L’il Ole Band from Texas” visited Little Rhody for a ride through their hits last Friday night. They’re the longest running continuous rock band in America. The Rock Hall of Fame members have been together for over 40 years – the longest of any major act out there. The reason for their longevity is simple - Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard really know how to rock. All three are exceptional players – and with only three guys, you can’t miss a note!

All the Hits

At the casino, the band didn’t take a lot of chances; they play it safe, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They pounded out hit after hit, throwing in a few high powered deep cuts. Opening with the solid “Got Me Under Pressure,” the band charged into “Waitin’ for the Bus (Have Mercy)” and then a nice bluesy “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” The Blues-Rock slow groove sounds so nice on those early tunes.

After a spirited “Gimme all Your Lovin,” they settled in for a few deeper tracks including the classic “Certified Blues,” from their first album. Their Rock and Roll credentials were further displayed in a rollicking version of “Foxy Lady,” which brought the crowd back to its feet. It’s worth noting that guitarist Billy Gibbons was pretty much “discovered” by Jimi Hendrix, who brought him on tour in 1968.

Commercial Success

Decades before the Red Sox made the scraggly beard all the rage, ZZ Top established the original fashion statement. It’s a brand recognized worldwide and adds to their appeal. (They were once offered a million dollars to shave the beards – they refused.) Throughout the show, a video screen flashed images of vintage cars, vintage guitars, scantily clad women, and old MTV videos reminding all present of the true meaning of Rock and Rock.

The bands commercial success can be attributed to their staying close to their roots while creating a brand, embracing a certain style and sticking to it. Let’s not forget how big they were in the early days of MTV, with hits like “Gimme All Your Lovin,” “Legs,” and “Cheap Sunglasses.” These were all FM radio staples, in heavy rotation, and are still heard frequently in TV advertising and sports stadiums.

Encore

A show highlight came on the first encore when Gibbons donned his Gibson SG and strummed out those familiar opening notes to “La Grange.” Have Mercy! After a sweet sounding “Tush,” the band’s final encore evoked the spirit of Elvis - they blasted into a mid tempo bluesy “Jailhouse Rock” featuring Dusty Hill on vocals.

The only problem with this show was its brevity. The band ripped through their 16 song set in about an hour and a quarter, way too brief for most concertgoers. At minimum, an opening act should have been arranged - the band even recognized local guitar legend Duke Robillard, who was in the house. Hmmm… there’s an idea. With premium pricing, and a known set list, it wouldn’t have been hard to set something up. Just a thought going forward.

 

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