JEFF BECK & ZZ TOP
The Greek Theatre
Los Angeles, CA
August 13, 2014
Photos and writing by TourBusLive.com
We weren’t worried. I mean, we were two days past the FULL MOON, and it was only WEDNESDAY the 13th. And, since the beautiful Greek Theatre in Los Angeles is located just a few minutes downhill from the city’s noted Griffith Park Observatory and we were at the tail end of the PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER, it seemed like the perfect night for a show!
But, as it turns out, those SHOOTING STARS (and even the waning SUPERMOON) were easily outshined by the SUPER STARS on this particular night as guitar virtuoso JEFF BECK and “That Little ol’ Band from Texas” ZZ TOP took the stage, and our breath, away.
The show, which was the last night of the KLOS Summer Concert Series, began with KLOS’s own DEREK MADDEN’s witty introduction, followed immediately by an amazing solo set by ZZ Top’s fellow Texan, 23-year old blues guitarist TYLER BRYANT (Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown), who held his own on the stage opening up for the legends who would follow. And this young blues player is well on his own way to legend status – as he played a surprisingly perfect SOLO set of great blues and blues rock music – although it’s hard to know what blues he has to sing about at his age. Regardless, this guy’s so good, we’re pretty sure one day we’ll be seeing him headline his own show at the Greek.
JEFF BECK stepped on the stage next and, within seconds, it was easy to see why Rolling Stone lists him at NUMBER 5 on their list of the 100 GREATEST GUITARISTS. OF ALL TIME. Yep. He’s a musician’s musician. And it was easy to see that Beck, although humbly playing in the opening spot for ZZ Top, was clearly a fan favorite on this night. The legendary guitarist’s comfortable style, mixed with his unmistakable tone, has captured our collective attention since the first time we ever heard him with the Yardbirds. His giant history is soon forgotten, however, as Beck’s small stature, and his shy, boyish grin (hard to believe the guy is 70), make him seem as though it’s his first time on stage. And although he does say a few words at the microphone – mostly introducing the whole of his backup band (bassist Rhonda Smith is pretty badass!) – he never steps up to it to sing. No, that part is instead achieved with the help of his six strings…which have a voice of their own. However, for a few songs on this night, we were also lucky to have 70s blues band Wet Willie lead singer Jimmy Hall (who was nominated for a Grammy for his vocals on Beck’s 1985 album Flash) show up to sing a few songs with his buddy Jeff Beck, including “Morning Dew,” “Little Wing,” and a show stopping cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Headlining the show, and probably the only band that could follow Jeff Beck’s set and still dazzle the audience, was ZZ TOP, the quintessential southern rock/boogie band, who always remind us what the word COOL really means. Yes, ZZ TOP – the musical TRES HOMBRES, whose beards (the clean-shaven drummer at least NAMED “Beard”) are as iconic as their long-admired music – and who’ve been hard at work and on the road for the last 45 years (did you know the band was initially formed all the way back in 1969?!?). EVERBODY’S STILL CRAZY ABOUT THESE SHARP DRESSED MEN!!
And sharply dressed they were!! Clad in matching ‘uniforms’ of beautifully embroidered jackets, fedora hats, dark shades, fancy shoes, and FOOT-LONG FACIAL HAIR, front men BILLY GIBBONS (guitar) and DUSTY HILL (bass) have the perfect disguise to hide any signs of aging in those 45 years on the road (they are 64 and 65, respectively) – and while their limited on-stage movement might seem those of older men (they were never guys to go in for big dance numbers), this band’s music NEVER GROWS OLD. Along with drummer FRANK BEARD (who is also 65), the TEXAS TRIO kept the crowd up and dancing (and doing some pretty funny air-guitar, I can tell you) through a set list of all the fan favs!!
Flanked by video screens which toggled between live feed of the band and a montage of movie and video clips (including the band’s original 1984 video running behind them as they played the song “Legs”), ZZ TOP opened the show with a thunderous version of “Got Me Under Pressure” that immediately got everyone on their feet! ZZ went on to play most of their hits – “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” just to name just a couple.
And if the two sets by these two ICONIC names weren’t enough – JEFF BECK came back out on stage during ZZ’s first encore to pump out ZZ TOP’s songs “Rough Boy”, “La Grange,” “Sloppy Drunk Jam” (one of my favorites), and “Tush.”
But the show topper was a SECOND ENCORE, where JEFF BECK and ZZ TOP ripped through a smokin’ hot cover of Merle Travis’s “Sixteen Tons.” I don’t think there was one person in the audience at that point who didn’t realize what they just witnessed: PURE MUSICAL GENIUS.
Yeah, it’s true: The stars really WERE out this night. Thanks, Universe!
*SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford, Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright, and possibly (but not quite sure) tabloid talk show host Jerry Springer?!
JEFF BECK SET LIST:
You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
- Yemin (Nicolas Meier cover)
- You Never Know
- A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)
- Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson cover)
- Why Give It Away
- A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover)
- Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
- Goin’ Down (Moloch cover)
- Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Hambone Willie Newbern cover)
ZZ TOP SET LIST:
- Got Me Under Pressure
- Waitin’ for the Bus
- Jesus Just Left Chicago
- Gimme All Your Lovin’
- I Gotsta Get Paid
- Flyin’ High
- Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
- My Head’s in Mississippi
- Catfish Blues (Muddy Waters cover)
- Sharp Dressed Man
- Encore 1:
- Rough Boy (with Jeff Beck)
- La Grange/Sloppy Drunk Jam (with Jeff Beck)
- Tush (with Jeff Beck)
- Encore 2:
- Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis cover – with Jeff Beck)
WATCH a video of parts of the JEFF BECK and ZZ TOP show at the Greek: