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ZZ Top at the Abbotsford Agriplex

ZZ Top press photo

Concert review – ZZ Top at the Abbotsford Agriplex

– by Carl Spackler

We timed it perfectly and missed a new country guy called Charlie Majors. No relation to Lee, or I would have been there in a flash. Reminds me, I got drunk with the Fall Guy once at a bar. Lee Majors? That guy’s tolerance is so low more like Lee Minors. Anyways, we slid in just as the Top hit the stage to “She Got Me Under Pressure”, off their criminally underrated Eliminator.

Most people I told I was going to see ZZ Top out in Abbotsford – a Vancouver suburb, no less – snorted, laughed, rolled their eyes and said, “You mean the guys who sing ‘Legs’? What? Why, Carl?”

Because, you dumbfucks, Billy Gibbons is one of the greatest guitar players who ever stomped on the dirt, and from 1971-79, those three guys could do no wrong! They walk on water here at the Ranch. Actually they mostly make me grin, drink tequila, eat BBQ, and boogie the fuck down. The Devil’s music! The Lord’s Music! I dunno which, but the Lil Ol’ Band from Texas has the hot blue and righteous sound down, and by God y’all, it’s a mantra I can git behind.

If Hendrix thought Gibbons was so killer he gave him a guitar when he was 15, then a few more of you ironic rock urbanites should have made the drive out to the Abbotsford Agriplex and watched that man while he’s still kickin’ up dust and not sleepin’ in it.

Which, at their age and the miles on the odometer, could be sooner rather than later. Billy gave a boogie rock throwdown and sang with a voice that seemed to be coming from somewhere not of this world. It was freakin’ me out, like a handful of gravel drug across cement. From way down below it seemed to rise, up from the ground like it sprung up from a large subterranean batcave.

Bassist Dusty Hill still has a powerful r’n’b shouter voice, much like Wilson Pickett, but dressed as a cowboy Hassidic Jew (isn’t that Kinky Freidman‘s look?). He thumped, stomped and preached the blues way too hard for a man his age and who had a bullet lodged in his crotch.

Drummer Frank Beard was the only member who struggled early on. He dropped the BBQ beat every once in awhile, but not enough to trainwreck the beautiful double-header of “Waitin’ For the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. If you’ve never heard ‘em, go find a vinyl copy of Tres Hombres, sit back, and freak hard.

After Frank struggled for a few numbers, I shit you not, a large black man walked out on stage, picked him up from behind and gave that skin pounder a deep spinal adjustment like the one Susan Sarandon‘s husband got in Jacob’s Ladder. After that, Frank stepped it up and was rock steady! Fuck, now that is a good roadie!

By now I was wild with joy, beer, and boogie! Did I say boogie yet? Holy fuckin’ creeping Jesus! ZZ Top played “Mexican Blackbird”, the best song about a part-Mexican, part-black whore ever written! Check it! “They all call her Puta, cuz no one really knows her name, she works the cantina, dancin’ and a lovin’ her trade, her Mama was Mex-can, her daddy was the ace of spades…”

Music video – ZZ Top, “Mexican Blackbird”:

Over the ripping-est mezcal groove, the band laid it down while the big screen behind projected old 1940s black and white photos of real south-of-the-border whorehouses, drunk Mexicans, Mariachi bands, and crazed nights, sending me right to Nirvana! Pure genius!

When the Top broke into “Just Got Paid”, the workin’ man’s anthem, I raised my hands like a believer at a revival meeting! Praise Jesus they were rollin’ now! The only turd of the night was “Patio Party” off their mostly crap LP (other than the killer cover shot), El Loco.

And thank the boogie rock gods they played nothing off Recycler or Afterburner, just killer song after killer song. Albeit at a way slower tempo than I was used to, but ZZ Top grooved and it wuz a Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Afterwards, we drove back and listened to John Lee Hooker and read from the Book of Revelations. We tried to find some Mexican food in Abby, but had to settle for Jalapeno Doritos and bong hits instead.

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