Friday, June 21, 2019

ZZ Top @ La Seine Musicale, Boulogne - June 21st, 2019

Today is Fête de la Musique here in France, and there is music everywhere. Musicians playing in the street, in cafés, in churches and museums... DJs blasting beats from their windows like in La Haine... All of it is free and fun.

Texas boogie rock stalwarts ZZ Top is also playing Paris (well, Boulogne... close enough) but it ain't free. In fact it's quite pricey. But can you put a price on groove? Promoter Gérard Drouot sure can. General Admission for ZZ Top in Paris was 62 euros in 2010. It was 67 in 2013. It's 89 today and I know several people who have been priced out of getting their not-so-cheap thrills with the pilose trio.

Vulgar financial considerations aside, ZZ Top always delivers and tonight was no exception. They are celebrating 50 years (and no line-up change!) and their set is basically a best of compilation of all their hits and classic, plus a few covers.

First of all, Billy Gibbons is a killer guitarist. It might seem obvious to you and me but for some reason he is never mentioned in the same breath as a Clapton or a Santana, when really he is every bit as original as those guys. His tone is full of harmonics thanks to the peso he uses as a pick and his riffs and solos are the backbone of the band.

Dusty Hill is a rock solid bassist and his vocals, whether lead or backing harmonies, are ZZ Top's secret weapon. Drummer Frank Beard keeps it all grounded with his steady, groovy beats.

Don't be fooled by the size of the room. Don't be fooled by the light show, the costume changes, the choreographies and the platinum hits. ZZ Top is a bar band. They're here to rock your socks off. They're here to kick your ass. They're the soundtrack to your tequila-fueled lost weekend.

ZZ Top is a people's band. This isn't populism, this isn't demagoguery, this is called giving the people what they want. And with crowd-pleasing tunes like I'm Bad I'm Nationwide, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers or the ribald Pearl Necklace, and bona-fide hit singles like Gimme All Your Loving, Sharp Dressed Man or Cheap Sunglasses, the trio from Houston takes the greasy, hairy boogie out of the juke joints and brings it to the clamoring masses. Screw the language barrier, and screw the cultural divide. In fact, screw everything that tears us apart. ZZ Top has what it takes to bring us all together: ZZ Top's got the Blues.

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