After opening for Tom Petty last fall, ZZ Top returned to Charlotte Thursday for a solo set at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. The veteran band didn't mess around. It hit the stage promptly at 8 without a warm up act and had played its last notes by 9:35.
In between it hit on expected spots - slow bluesy numbers that showcased Billy Gibbons' guitar chops, its signature choreography, Southern boogie rockers, and its biggest `80s hits "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," and "Legs," which ended the regular set.
The show was similar to the one it played at the Petty concert in September. Gibbons and Dusty Hill again wore matching bedazzled jackets, paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix (with "Hey Joe"), and received a "blues hat" from a lingerie clad beauty. Gibbons revisited his one-handed solo (played with his fretting hand alone) during "I Need You Tonight." Hill got to show off his rippling bass licks and brought a bit of soulful Southern fire to songs like "Party on the Patio" and "Tush" while beardless drummer Frank Beard got to bash some of the interesting percussion that made up his elaborate drum kit. But even the showier tricks were subtle and always fit the song.
It stuck to much of the same material as last time - "Got Me Under Pressure," "Waiting for the Bus," "Jesus Just Left Chicago," "Just Got Paid," "Cheap Sunglasses," the "Eliminator" singles, and encores of "La Grange" and "Tush." But the lengthier set also allowed for a few more blues workouts as well as "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide," and the aforementioned "Party" (fitting considering there actually is a patio at the venue).
Despite the spot-on performance there were several empty seats. Maybe folks already saw them with Petty, opted for another Thursday show or were put off by ticket prices which topped out at $106 for the best seats (over a $1 a minute). On the other side of that ZZ Top got the job done (and done well) without asking its audience to sit around and sacrifice the entire night. It could've worked in a few more songs. As a child of the `80s I wouldn't have minded hearing singles like "TV Dinners," "Velcro Fly" or "Sleeping Bag" (my classic rock loving husband makes fun of me for those requests, but I really loved the latter).
(Thanks to my friend Lauren, who totally dug the show, for the above photos).