ZZ Top and Jeff Beck at the Greek

Well, back to the Greek to see the Jeff Beck and ZZ Top show.

‘Twas a beautiful So Cal Wednesday night under the smogberry trees…leading off was an inspiring four-song set by a young talent named Tyler Bryant…nice guitar and dobro work…then Jeff Beck took the stage.

I find it hard to entirely characterize his playing…kind of an experimentally-tinged cross between Frank Zappa and Eric Johnson, showing off a fingerstyle guitar technique reminiscent of Robby Kreiger perpetually adding the predominant usage of his whammy bar…interesting in parts, soaring and seering, and trivial in others…frankly I thought there was far too much directionless noodling…I had to keep reminding myself that I was watching a 70-year-old Hall of Fame guitar legend who certainly doesn’t have to impress anyone any more (who am I to criticize?)

After about five instrumental numbers, he brought out a solid blues singer named Jimmy Hall who transformed the performance into kind of a 60’s barroom blues revival…backing Jeff (who was born Geoffrey) was a fine trio who each had their estimable soloing moments.

After a twenty-minute set change that little ol’ band from Texas brought their gritty brand of working-class blues-rock to the crowd…ZZ Top played many of their hits, of course, opening with Under Pressure and moving thru Jesus Just Left Chicago, Gimme All Your Lovin, Gotsta Get Paid, Catfish Blues, Head’s in Mississippi, Chartreuse, Legs and closing with Sharp Dressed Man. The highlight of their set, for me, was a ballsy rendition of Hendrix’ Foxey Lady, with the audience chiming in regularly with the title phrase.

Not a big fan of the blues and so found much of Billy Gibbons’ playing repetitive, unimaginative and trivial…seen them three or four times before and were more fun and played better, but again had to remind myself that we were watching some old dudes do this, so cut them slack, Jack…nonetheless, Frank Beard (the only ZZ member without one) plays drums with the precision of an electron microscope and Dusty Hill and BFG appeared to have loads of fun trading back and forth…

And, as with the Chicago/REO gig from a couple of weeks ago, the best part of the show was when, after a short break, Jeff Beck joined ZZ Top for a few numbers…talk about your strange bedfellows…Billy had to stop and say, “Well, look at that! That’s Jeff Beck!”

The prettiest and most melodic number of the night was the first one they played together, a Jeff Beck number that was both impressive and downright beautiful. La Grange and Tush closed out the show to an adoring on-their-feet crowd…yet one more surprise…the foursome returned, as a second encore, for an uplifting rendition of the traditional Sixteen Tons…

Now, as for the crowd…if you are going to a concert and pay upwards of $100 a ticket or more, please do us all a favor and leave your effing cell phone alone! Be in the moment and watch the concert (like the old days) and do not try to video the whole thing on a 2″ camera commensurate with the size of your brain case because you feel the overwhelming need to further saturate the internet with poor concert video…there were numerous trolls doing this all around us, including right in front of us…not to mention the constant, mindless drivel oozing from ignorant mouths all over the place as well…Jim Robb (a friend of mine from Monroe), who just happened to be sitting right behind me, commented that common courtesy is gone. He nailed it.

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