Three guys. Four decades. Three chords.
This is how ZZ Top guitarist-vocalist Billy Gibbons summed up the history of his beloved blues-rock band at Casino New Brunswick last night. Although their show may have been a little too brief for some people’s liking, for the time that little ole band from Texas was on stage, they owned the stage and the audience with a mix of new and old tracks alike.
Sounding impressively large for only numbering three on stage, ZZ Top showed they do not need to rely on gimmicks to get their point across. That being said, the band’s stage presence was relaxed at best. While both Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill took their turns strolling over to the respective sides of the stage to acknowledge the sold-out crowd gathered before them, both musicians were often more content to simply stay in their place for the show. And that’s alright. Some might believe this has more to due with laziness but I’m not convinced of that. When you’ve been at it as long as these guys have, I don’t feel as though the show would have been made any better had Gibbons and Hill been incessantly running from one side of the stage to the other. That really isn’t ZZ Top’s thing.
Four songs into their 75-minute set, Billy Gibbons casually chatted up the audience, remarking how cold it was in Canada. He even went so far to ask the crowd “What can we do for you?” which elicited a chorus of various song requests being shouted out.
Yes, they played “Legs”. Yes, they played “La Grange”. Yes they played “Tush”. Did you expect them not to? Hell, they even threw in a few songs from last year’s excellent La Futura as well as a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”.
But no, they didn’t play “Cheap Sunglasses”. They didn’t play “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”. And that was where some of the disappointment of the group’s short set is probably resonating among those in attendance at the show. With four decades of music behind them, the group could have delivered so much more. But they didn’t. Especially after going so far to ask the audience what they wanted to hear.
In spite of the group’s brief set, the time that ZZ Top was on stage was terrific. Just stay a little longer next time, guys.