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ConcertsZZ Top @ O2 Academy, Birmingham 06/23/2016

Posted on Friday, June 24 2016 @ 09:26:22 CDT by Dean Pedley
General Making a fleeting visit to the UK to appear at Glastonbury Festival, ZZ Top also managed to squeeze in a warm-up gig at Birmingham's O2 Academy, quickly selling out the relatively cosy venue that houses just a few thousand. And the little old band from Texas didn't disappoint with a no frills ninety minute burst of perennial crowd pleasers from their 70's blues boogie heyday right through to 2012's acclaimed return to form La Futura.

After a brief hiatus earlier this year due to Dusty Hill's shoulder injury it was notable that the stage set up showcases a bass-synth hybrid set up that Hill spends around half the set behind, presumably to aid his ongoing recuperation. This aside little changes in the world of ZZ Top and they kick off with long-time opener 'Got Me Under Pressure', Frank Beard nodding sagely behind his kit and the grizzled pairing of Hill and Billy Gibbons trading licks, riffs and lyrics. Sharp dressed men in cheap sunglasses. With Hill now more or less static it is left to Gibbons to shuffle across the stage and they are straight into cruise control with 'Gimme All Your Lovin' and the slick Tres Hombres pairing of 'Waitin For the Bus' and 'Jesus Just Left Chicago'.

The 90's may have been a decade largely spent in the wilderness for the trio but the chugging 'Pincushion' from Antenna is something of an unheralded classic. Mid set 'Rough Boy' and covers of 'Foxy Lady' and 'Catfish Blues' drop the tempo and the temperature although the delivery remains effortless and sublime. They enter the home straight with 'Sharp Dressed Man' and the furry guitar flavoured 'Legs', rounding out the main set after an hour, before the traditional encore of 'La Grange' and 'Tush' has Gibbons puffing away on a lighted cigar to the delight of the crowd.

They won't convert many new followers - ZZ Top in 2016 are unashamedly all about nostalgia - but in a year when many artists have reached the end of the road we should be thankful they are still out their rocking night after night. Same three guys, same three chords.

Got Me Under Pressure
Gimme All Your Lovin'
Waitin' for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
I Gotsta Get Paid
Rough Boy
Foxy Lady
Catfish Blues
Cheap Sunglasses
Sharp Dressed Man
La Grange / Sloppy Drunk Jam
Encore 2:
Sixteen Tons
Jailhouse Rock

Review by Dean Pedley, pic by Rich Ward

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