[Review] - ZZ Top: Gang Of Outlaws

Billy Gibbons introduced the show, after working their way through I Thank You, as "the same three guys, the same three chords." It's not a bad thing. It is, in fact, what a ZZ Top fan wants from the little ol' band from Texas. While the Gang of Outlaws tour is in support of their first new album in nine years, La Futura, all anyone in the audience wants to see and hear are three masters of their craft, making as loud a sound as possible, no matter which songs they are playing.

Hit the jump for the review.

The most amazing thing about seeing an ZZ Top show is, considering the usual elaborate construction of rock groups (opening act JD & The Straight Shot had five members, each playing multiple instruments), how much sound is generated by three guys, using just an electric guitar, a base, and a set of drums.

In part, the sound presented the biggest issue of the show, in that the majority of Gibbons' singing could barely be heard. Whether this was a problem with the sound system (and considering the particular venue, which has had sound problems before, not outside the realm of possibility) or the fact that Gibbons' voice sounds like a rock being pushed over a cheese grater, I don't know. Nor, actually, did I care. And neither, apparently, did the audience. Because with the classic tunes, we all knew the words. "You didn't have to love me like you did," "she won't do it, but her sister will," "'cause every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man." We weren't there to hear the words. We were there to watch these guys play. We were there to hear the music, to experience Gibbons and Dusty Hill clearly having a lot of fun, even after forty years, on the stage. They provided the tune, and our memories filled in the gaps.

And what a sound. Unrelenting, pure electric sound. More then once, as Gibbons took off with a tune, wandering the stage, building up the anticipation, he'd drive it straight through into the next song, changing seamlessly from one familiar anthem to sex and rock, into another. And the crowd never missed a beat, knowing exactly what was coming, and welcoming it. Even the new tracks, including the ear worm I Gotsta Get Paid, or the melodious Chartreuse, never brought the crowd down in the way that a classic band playing a unfamiliar song can (I've seen a John Fogerty crowd come to an absolute standstill as he belted out some obscure love ballad, before winning them back with Centerfield).

They ended the evening with a nonstop marathon of Tube Snake Boogie, Tush and La Grange, decked out in matching sequin suits. And perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was that the end came so soon, after only an hour and half of the title act on stage. I suppose I've been spoiled in the past by the likes of Roger Waters or Neil Young, whose shows challenge Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight films for length.

The show lacked an over-all theme, though the projection screens told a fragmented story of "the Girl", played by the heavily tattooed Darci Carlson, as she makes her way across the American south west, intercutting her story with footage from the band's original music videos from the eighties. The rest of the night was a wonderful assault on the senses, including smell, as the show came to an end with Gibbons puffing away on a cigar, billowing the smoke out into the crowd.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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