ZZ Top At Pacific Amphitheatre
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By Jamie Harvey
Costa Mesa, Calif.
I may have spent a lot of my years in California, but I will always be a proud Texan. And one of Texas' greatest music exports is ZZ Top.
Somewhere between the sights, sounds and smells of the OC Fair on Aug. 1, I was beginning to feel like I was back at the Texas rodeos of my youth until it dropped to the high 60s when the sun went down on this summer night. Fittingly, I bought a shirt from the merch stand that said "Texicali" and made my way to my seat.
There was no opener, and as the venue slowly filled I giggled at several men donning fake long beards and sunglasses. I've always wondered if the three Texans realized when they crafted their look that it would not only become a universally recognized caricature, but would keep them from aging over their four-decade-plus career.
The trio sauntered onstage in their boots and hats and sparkly blazers and beards and purple guitars ... well, except for drummer Frank Beard. Launching into "Got Me Under Pressure," from their 1983 GRAMMY-nominated album Eliminator, the audience began to groove to the band's signature bluesy-rock sound. I just got their iconic 1973 album Tres Hombres from Amoeba Music's used bin the other day, so it was great to hear the album's first two tracks in succession. The hit "Gimme All Your Lovin'" had everyone singing to their significant others.
"I Gotsta Get Paid" — their rewritten cover of Houston rapper DJ DMD's track "25 Lighters" — was an unusual choice from their 2012 album, La Futura, produced by fellow bearded man Rick Rubin. Another cover came shortly after in the form of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady," which showed off Gibbons' shredding skills and magnificent guitar tone. (Gibbons' first band, the Moving Sidewalks, opened for Hendrix in the late '60s.)
"Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs" reminded me of watching MTV as a kid, with their flashy videos of not so thinly veiled suggestions. The group came back out for an encore with "Tube Snake Boogie" and segued into "La Grange" and "Tush," as an exuberant male fan jumped onstage and caught Gibbons off guard as he and bassist Dusty Hill were synchronized midboogie. ZZ Top closed with one final encore, a cover of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock." I left very satisfied with my long overdue first ZZ Top show, and with a little Texas twang back in my voice.
To catch ZZ Top in a town near you, click here for tour dates.
"Got Me Under Pressure"
"Waitin' For The Bus"
"Jesus Just Left Chicago"
"Gimme All Your Lovin'"
"I Gotsta Get Paid"
"Heartache In Blue"
"Foxy Lady" (Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
"My Head's In Mississippi"
"Sharp Dressed Man"
"Tube Snake Boogie"
"La Grange"/"Sloppy Drunk Jam"
"Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley cover)