Midlands fans give ZZ Top all their lovin'
The fans got a rare chance to see bearded rock legends ZZ Top up close when they played the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Concert review: It was the coup of the year when rock giants ZZ Top announced Wolverhampton Civic as their only UK gig this year apart from Wembley Arena and Download Festival, says Debbie Bennett.
See all the ZZ Top photos from Civic Hall show - click on the numbers below
The "little ol' band from Texas" treated a sold-out Civic to a performance as classy, smooth and turbocharged as the famous red hot rod from the cover of their classic 1983 album Eliminator.
First up though, special guests Steel Panther had the crowd purring with their filthy-mouthed but perfectly realised parody of sex-obsessed 80s hair metal.
Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake were hilariously dissected and the Civic crowd was treated to a rock riffs history lesson from "the best lead guitarist in the whole band", Satchel.
For years ZZ Top have traded on their "two guys with beards, one guy called Beard" cartoon image but you don't last 40 years on image alone and last night the sharp-dressed Texan trio showed why, reaching back into a legacy of classic rock rooted firmly in the blues.
Gruff-voiced guitarist Billy Gibbons gave his own rock riffs history lesson, from the insistent Got Me Under Pressure to the trippin' I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide and the supercharged Just Got Paid, with further ammunition supplied by bassist Dusty Hill (CORR) and drummer Frank Beard.
"Wolverhampton . . . did I say that right? That was hard to say and hard to remember," said Gibbons to a roar, before eliciting a hail of boos by asking knowingly, "Are we in Birmingham? No, no, Wolverhampton."
Was it coincidence or did Gibbons and Hill know the significance of their black shades and gold guitars before they hit the stage?
It's difficult to know, but there were plenty of other references to Wolverhampton in the set, including lyrical namechecks in My Head's In Mississippi and Jesus Just Left Chicago and a so-bizarre-it-might-just-be-true reference to a trip to the "pound store" in the city to buy some Cheap Sunglasses.
There were nods to the ZZ Top's own heroes in BB King and Jimi Hendrix, culminating in a scorching Foxy Lady, before the band hit the home straight with the triple whammy of Gimme All Your Lovin', Sharp Dressed Man and Legs - Gibbons and Hill donning their famous furry guitars for the latter.
Ninety minutes in and ZZ Top had still to unleash two of their most fearsome riffs. La Grange and Tush took the temperature even higher in the encore (did Gibbons really smoke a cigarette on stage?) before Gibbons, Hill and Beard returned to top the night off with Tube Snake Boogie - with a naughty little singalong of their own for the audience.
And with that they were gone. The Civic's gig of the year? Top that!
By Debbie Bennett
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