ZZ Top lead guitarist / vocalist Billy Gibbons pretty much summed up the concert review himself by saying “We’ve been coming to Montreal for five decades with the same three members playing the same three chords.” Apparently that’s all they need. The three Texans let the music do all the talking for their 90 minute set. Since it was all about the music there was almost no production except for an occasional microphone stand lighting up and a huge black cloth draped with glitter. In the encore Billy Gibbons and fellow bassist Dusty Hill would wear black jackets with more sparkle then the backdrop. When it comes to ZZ Top it’s seems the famous long beards of Gibbons and Hill are the most impressive stage props. Ironically drummer Frank Beard is the only member with no beard. Speaking of props they still used the fuzzy guitars during Legs.
The best moments came in their blues jams such as Waiting For the Bus into Jesus Just Left Chicago. This is also where ZZ Top turned a hockey arena into a local blues bar. They might be from Texas but Billy held up a can of Maple syrup exclaiming “That’s why I love coming to Canada.” While you are not allowed to smoke inside public places in Quebec that didn’t stop Frank Beard from running off side stage to grab a puff. Later on a roadie came on stage and placed a small stogie right in Billy’s mouth. No matter what, the rough boys (yes, pun intended) kept the dirty riff blues coming. They even did a blues send up of the country classic Sixteen Tons.
After they growled through Just Got Paid ZZ Top hit off all the big hits one after another from Sharp Dressed Man and Legs to La Grange and Tush. Montreal got a bonus song as they played homage to the 41st year of the passing of Elvis Presley with a gritty ruff version of Jailhouse Rock.
ZZ Top setlist : Got Me Under Pressure / I Thank You / Waitin For the Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago / Gimme All Your Loving’ / Pearl Necklace / I’m Bad I’m Nation Wide / I Gotta Get Paid / My head’s in Mississippi / Sixteen tons / Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers / Just Got Paid / Sharp dressed Man / Legs / encore 1 : La grange / Tush encore 2 : Jailhouse Rock
Major kudos go out to local Montreal rockers The Damn Truth who opened the evening. A way too short 30 minute slot didn’t seem to phase the band or those getting a much needed shot of Zeppelin-influenced acid fuelled rock n roll. Where as ZZ Top would turn Place Bell into a smokey bar The Damn Truth played their set as arena rockers. After the two song opening of Pirates and Politicians and Get With You lead singer Lee-la Baum took her guitar off and snaked around the stage wearing shiny pants. Guitarist Tom Shemerr let loose by jumping off the drum riser and rolling on the floor.