ZZ Top Bring Out Robert Randolph and JD Pints As Guitar Slides in Boston (SHOW REVIEW)

It has been a bumpy road over the past couple of year for the Texas trio, as injury and illness have had a couple of the band’s members sidelined, causing postponed and even canceled shows. Billy Gibbons (guitar/vocals), Dusty Hill (bass guitar/vocals) and Frank Beard (drums) were last scheduled to play in Boston nearly two years ago. Unfortunately, Hill took a tumble and needed immediate medical attention and that date back in 2014 was canceled. However, with a new album on the horizon, Greatest Hits From Around The World, and stable health amongst the band, ZZ Top made their long-awaited return and graced the stage with a night full of hits, deep cuts and a couple of choice covers.

After tearing through the set’s openers “Got Me Under Pressure”, “Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago”, and “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, the band settled in and dug deeper into their catalog of nuggets, with a killer version of “Pincushion”, “Nationwide” and “Paid” before slowing things down a bit with the drone “Rough Boy”. After “Boy” wrapped up, Gibbons asked, “Are we having a good time? Well, now we’re going way back,” as he massaged a beautiful stream of feedback from his axe for “Foxey Lady” by his old friend Jimi Hendrix. The crowd erupted. Gibbons’ gritty vocals added a new dimension to the trippy-classic. Mid-song, Gibbons egged on the crowd with, “C’mon Boston!”

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Gibbons then shared that they had just finished some recording with Jeff Beck. Gibbons continued by sharing that Beck said to him, “I play rock and roll. You play rock and roll. Let’s do a country song.” Apparently, they must have played and recorded “16 Tons”, as it was the next song in the set and what a fun one it was. Then, after the classic “Cheap Sunglasses”, Gibbons mischievously announced, “It’s time to drink a little whiskey.” before laying into “Chartreuse” and another MTV-era hit “Sharp Dressed Man”.

ZZ Top, never ones to shy away from having fun with a little shtick, found Hill and Gibbons strapping on matching guitars, both upholstered with white fur that completely covered the guitars’ bodies and headstocks for one of their biggest commercial hits, “Legs”. But, would the boys pull off the 360-degree trompe-l’oeil with these furry wonders? Unfortunately, not this time. But, “Legs” was a surefire crowd pleaser.

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The encore warranted a wardrobe change, as Gibbons and Hill came back out front, wearing matching jackets with shiny patchwork crosses that stretched from shoulder to shoulder and across their chests. They ripped into glorious versions of “La Grange” and “Tush” which included a devilish jam full of frills and thrills. Gibbons was full of vigor, as he announced, “I may just have a pint of Jack Daniels.” He then held aloft said pint and proceeded to use it as a slide on his guitar. At one point, mid-guitar solo, a roadie rode up alongside Gibbons, popped a thin cigar into Billy’s mouth and lit it. Gibbons took a few hits and blew a modest cloud of smoke into the air and seamlessly continued his solo.

Though it may have seemed like the show was over, those watching carefully saw several roadies bringing some new gear to the front of the stage and not breaking anything down. Robert Randolph’s pedal steel guitar was placed front and center. And then, just a moment later ZZ Top, along with Randolph, returned to the stage. Gibbons stepped up to the mic and joked, “We can’t stop. You know Robert Randolph is in the house.” Then the four friends tore up the stage with a rousing rendition of “Jailhouse Rock”, thus concluding a spectacular performance from the Texas legends and Randolph alike.

ZZ Top Setlist Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, MA, USA 2016

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