Tropical Storm Nestor got out of town right on time on Saturday afternoon, because it couldn’t possibly compete with the force of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, ZZ Top and Cheap Trick!
Both bands have been going since the 70’s! ZZ Top has a jump on Trick by 4 years. ZZ started out in 1969, the year of Woodstock. Cheap Trick showed up in 1973. Both bands are original and innovative in their own right. Both bands were darlings of the 80’s MTV generation with their videos playing in heavy rotation.
The lawn at the Mid-Florida was closed for this event before the storm showed up and that turned out to be a good thing since it rained heavily. It was a capacity crowd in the blue seats although many were out of them for most of the show. Cheap Trick opened with their greeting of rock “Hello There” from the famous “Live at Budokan” album right into “How About You” from 1985’s “Standing on the Edge”. Classic Trick with the 1977 rocker, “He’s A Whore”. Their cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” is great live and was also on the Budokan LP. Fats Domino loved their version and gave the band his 1955 gold record which guitarist Rick Nielsen keeps. Speaking of Nielsen, still running and jumping around on stage, he entertains with proficiency on various guitars from his vast collection and throwing rainbows of guitar pics into the audience.
Tom Petersson, the inventor of the 12-string bass, brings a punk edge center stage in his solo effort of the Lou Reed written “I’m Waiting for My Man” cover of the Velvet Underground. Diversity keeps this band creative. The great vocals of Robin Zander, whose versatility allows for him to rock hard and still sing one of the biggest arena ballads of the 80’s, “The Flame”, that still sounds like the FM radio classic. His vocal ability is admired by many rockers including Sebastian Bach and his friend Steven Tyler. Talented Daxx Nielsen, son of Rick, has been handling the drum kit for years now. Hits “Dream Police” and “Surrender” were on the set list. Zander’s son Robin Taylor, has been touring with the band this year on guitar, another generation of musicians to carry on. Cheap Trick is one of rock’s premier live bands!
When I was a teenager there was the Columbia House record club and, for a penny, you could buy 10 albums! I am sure you, the reader, may remember this if you are old enough. On my order, I bought ZZ Top’s albums “Fandango” and “Tres Hombres”. These guys were bad, rockin’ blues amigos from Texas! Those albums had grooves in them! It was amazing that this was only a band of three that were creating such an original sound. Billy Gibbons has since become a guitar god over the last 50 years and well earned. From the first lick when they stepped on stage to “Got Me Under Pressure”, listening to his guitar was magic. One of the best live blues jams ever is “Waitin’ for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago”. ZZ keeps the stage setup simple but classy. Big screen, big lights and big music! Dusty on bass and Frank on drums. They’re Bad, They’re Nationwide and don’t we know it!
Billy chats a bit from time to time, but it is all about the music. Both dressed in ornate black matching jackets and matching guitars, their twin beards moving from side to side, Billy and Dusty along with Frank’s beat, play “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” as the 80’s videos play on the big screen. This took the audience for a blast in the past ride in that iconic ZZ Top “Eliminator” hot rod. The encore was that “Tres Hombres” classic “LaGrange” which has one of the most renowned guitar riffs in modern music. Closing with “Fandango’s” hit track “Tush” had everyone on their feet! Happy 50th Anniversary ZZ Top! Thanks for the music and the memories!
The opening act was an indie/alternative band formed by singer Don Miggs from San Francisco called “Whole Damn Mess”. Daxx Nielsen of Cheap Trick is on the drums with them. You can check them out on Facebook.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post