ZZ Top earned their superstar status a long time ago now, so could easily sell out arenas worldwide, but this is one of the reasons that it is so refreshing to see the band return to the intimate setting of the O2 Academy in Birmingham for a warm up show just a day before their set at Glastonbury 2016. The venue sold out of tickets for the show months in advance, and it is clear from the air of anticipation within the room that everyone has been looking forward to the gig for just as long.
The electric atmosphere erupted with applause upon the band’s arrival on the stage; with Frank Beard perching behind his stunning drum kit at first before being joined by Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons who were sporting matching leather jackets. At this, they launched into their superb 1983 hit Got Me Under Pressure; then the hits just kept on coming as everyone sang along to their perhaps their most famous song, Give Me All Your Lovin’.
Guitarist Billy Gibbons was on fine form throughout the set cracking jokes about things such as not drinking during their ‘gospel songs’, and his gravelly vocals seemed just as pitch perfect as they have ever been; which was especially apparent during their performance of I Gotsta Get Paid. There was also a particularly lovely moment during the set when he dedicated their cover of Foxy Lady to his friend; Jimi Hendrix.
As you would imagine with a band who are as experienced as ZZ Top on stage, their show ran like a well-oiled machine as the band effortlessly performed track after track and seemed completely at ease interacting on stage with each other. The audience partied as they were invited to “Drink a little whiskey” while the band performed Chartreuse, followed by my personal favourite; Sharp Dressed Man.
The band left the stage after fourteen magical songs, but the night was definitely not over as they returned to perform not one, but two encores to the excitable crowd. The first encore of which comprised of La Grange and Tush; before being shortly followed up by two wonderful covers of Sixteen Tons and Jailhouse Rock. If one thing is apparent from tonight, ZZ Top could certainly teach everyone a thing or two about rock showmanship. I hope that they return to Birmingham for another show very soon.