ZZ Top Brings Their 50th Anniversary Tour To The Queen City
Charlotte Fans Go Crazy For These Sharp Dressed Men
Fifty years ago three Texas musicians got together to play the blues and the rock world was forever changed. ZZ Top is one of the few rock and roll bands around that still has their original lineup of vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons, bass guitarist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. Their special brand of Texas blues and boogie rock has stood the test of time with classic hits like “Tush,” “Just Got Paid,” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” It wasn’t until the release of their Eliminator album in 1983 that the band truly became a household name. With over ten million copies sold in the US alone and the advent of MTV and the success of iconic music videos for “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” ZZ Top achieved the pinnacle of commercial success. For one night, Charlotte rock fans got the chance to boogie to all their favorite ZZ Top tunes.
The legendary Cheap Trick would open the night and get the party started. First achieving success in Japan, their legendary 1979 album Cheap Trick at Budokan garnered the band mainstream success in the United States and went on to become one of the most loved and well known live records in the annals of rock history. Listening to Cheap Trick instantly takes me back in time to my childhood and even my teen years. I can still remember popping some Cheap Trick into the eight-track tape player in my best friend’s car and hitting the streets for some cruising. Frontman Robin Zander can still rock a mic stand like nobody’s business as he led the crowd on the chorus of “I Want You To Want Me.” Guitarist Rick Nielsen was dressed in his signature Cheap Trick jacket and hat posing for the crowd as he changed from one of his famous guitars to another even laying a kiss on one. Their set was a blast and the audience was having a great time. During “Surrender” which features the line “When I woke up, Mom and Dad are rolling on the couch. Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my KISS records on,” Rick even threw some albums out into the crowd. Cell phones and even a few lighters were up and out for the 80s ballad “The Flame” lighting up the venue in grand fashion. “Goodnight Now” was the perfect way to end their set and the enthusiastic crowd showed their appreciation.
After the requisite break, it was finally time for the Texas trio themselves, ZZ Top. They hit the stage hard and fast with “Got Me Under Pressure” as the crowd was on their feet and had no intention of slowing down. Gibbons and Hill were positioned behind their ZZ mic stands with drummer Frank Beard hidden behind his kit. There was a giant screen at the rear of the stage that gave those in the back a better view of what was going on at the stage but also played video clips during some of the songs. Billy Gibbons is one of the best blues guitarists out there and really shined on tunes like “Waitin’ for the Bus” and the Sam & Dave cover “I Thank You.” The rhythm section of Hill and Beard never missed a beat as Gibbons’s vocals commanded your attention. ZZ was the epitome of cool and at one point a crew member came out, put a cigar in Gibbons’ mouth and lit it for him. The band may be older now but Hill and Gibbons still do their signature tandem guitar moves to wow the crowd.
When they got to “Sharp Dressed Man,” the original music video played on the screen showcasing their famous 1933 Ford coupe and the band all decked out. Many rockers have guitars that stand out and have become symbolic of the band themselves. For ZZ Top, this would have to be the fuzzy white guitars that appeared in the “Legs” video and the fans went wild as the famous guitars made their way out on stage. The band did not one but two encores finally capping off their set with a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” This was a show where everyone seemed to stay until the end not wanting the night to ever end.
What a great night of music! ZZ Top had us rocking, dancing, boogieing, and singing the blues. There aren’t many bands that you can truly say that about. If you’ve ever worn your cheap sunglasses while you partied on the patio, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.