Those long-bearded Texan blues rockers, ZZ Top, are currently touring Australia as support for Guns n Roses but they have managed to squeeze in a handful of sideshows on the east coast to satisfy their own hungry fans, who were left wanting something more after the big arena shows. And Friday night’s show at The Metro in Sydney certainly gave them what they were hungry for.
Local young Sydney band, Voodoo Sons, warmed up the early birds with some hard hitting rock and the crowd seemed pretty impressed with their set. Not an easy task for a support act at a gig like this one.
If the audience warmed to Voodoo Sons, the room really heated up for The Dead Daisies. This was the band’s greatly anticipated debut public performance and a very impressive one at that. Mind you, this band boasts some very well-credentialed musicians. Individually, these guys have played with the likes of Guns n Roses, Robert Palmer, Noiseworks, The Angels, Cold Chisel, Dragon, Divinyls and INXS.
They are not exactly unseasoned performers and, together, they have something pretty special; something that caught the crowd’s attention from the outset. The line-up includes drummer Charley Drayton, bassist Jim Hilburn, guitarist David Lowy, keyboard player Alan Mansfield and it doesn’t hurt to have current Guns n Roses guitarist, Richard Fortus on their team. Fortus somehow manages to fit the job around his international touring commitments with the Gunners, adding his own unique style of showmanship and a depth of musical experience to The Dead Daisies. And, of course, with one of this country’s best and most popular vocalists Jon Stevens as front man, how could this ‘supergroup’ go wrong? Their version of Free’s ‘All Right Now’ blew me away and, when it comes to covers of Free songs, I can be just a little judgmental, so that is high praise indeed. The Daisies’ sound is predominantly late seventies/early eighties but with a bit of sixties thrown in for good measure, such as their finale on Friday night, a ripper rendering of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter. Their set definitely hit a chord with the crowd and I think it’s safe to say that The Dead Daisies are alive and well… and ready to bloom.
The room was already pretty well full by now but somehow, the size of the crowd seemed to double by the time headliners, ZZ Top hit the stage. Having left the room for just a few minutes before their set, I found it a near impossible task to make my way back to my previous perfect vantage point and had to make do with standing on the sidelines, close to the exit doors, where at least I could breathe. But I could see the show and I certainly had no problem hearing it. I have been a fan of ZZ’s music for a very long time but had never before had the opportunity to see them ‘live’ so this was quite a new experience for me but it didn’t take long before I understood what all the fuss was about. I had wondered how those classics like ‘La Grange’ and ‘Tush’ would translate to a ‘live’ performance; if the bearded ones were indeed as good as their records and film clips portrayed. Well, my questions were soon answered. They were, in fact, better.
The screen behind the band showed black and white pseudo film footage with opening credits introducing the band and, for the next hour or so, we were treated to a flood of ZZ’s signature guitar riffs and that familiar boogie slide that defined the band, just as much as did those long beards, Texan hats and sunglasses.
Guitarist Billy Gibbons, bass player Dusty Hill and drummer, Frank Beard (ironically the only member of the band without one – a beard, that is) showed us what they’re made of, and left the audience with no doubt that they still have ‘it’ after all these years.
The band played all their hits of course, as well as some of the newer material from their latest album, ‘La Futura’, including the single ‘I Gotsta Get Paid’. The fans were into the music from the opening song but it was ‘Give Me Some Lovin’ that took the audience participation to a whole new level and that’s pretty much where it stayed for the remainder of the set. Well, at least until the last three numbers, when the atmosphere built considerably. ‘Stages’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and the crowd favourite, ‘Legs’, which was of course accompanied by the very popular film clip from the 80s playing on the screen behind them. The band left the stage momentarily but there was never any chance that they would be allowed to call it a night without an encore that included two songs that have become synonymous with the name ZZ Top. The excitement reached fever pitch with the opening beat of ‘La Grange’ followed by an extended version of ‘Tush’, both of which were so damn good, I’m lost for words.
It all seemed to end a bit too soon for my liking but then, they do say that time flies when you’re having fun and judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces as they exited the building, there was a lot of fun had at The Metro on Friday night, from start to finish.
You might still be able to catch ZZ Top at one of their few remaining shows while they are still in the country. But be quick and you won’t regret it.
by Sharyn Hamey
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