ZZ Top + The Damn Truth @ Place Bell – 19th August 2018

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We are so used to extravagant performances, with fire, lights, lasers and a dozen pedal effects on the guitars of the bands we hear, that is a rare feeling to witness a simple trio comprised of a guitar, a bass, and drums. On Friday it wasn’t only unique to see this live, but it was a fantastic experience to hear ZZ Top who in their own words, are the same three dudes that have been playing for 5 decades with the same three chords.

Place Bell was packed to, I would say, 95%+ capacity, filling almost every seat in the 10,000 place arena. This was even the case for the opening band The Damn Truth, who played their hearts out and showed everyone what they were made of.

This Montreal-born band, lead by the singer Lee-La Baum, is a unique band regarding what it offers in its sound and presentation. They seem to combine elements of rock-n-roll, punk, glam, blues, psych and the good old hippie spirit. Their songs were powerful, to the point and showcased each of their talents in a harmonious ensemble. The people seemed to have reacted positively to the 30 minutes of preamble music but had to be encouraged a couple of times by the band itself to engage and clap along.

After the half an hour of the musical entree, there was ample time to grab a drink or two, mingle with other fans and hear about stories and memories from the more than 7 times that the bearded characters visited Montreal.

Once the lights went off and a corner of the stage lighted up with a flashlight from one of the walkers, the reflection from their sunglasses and their long beards could be seen, tightly holding their instruments and, once having arrived at mid-scene, waved at everyone with their big smiles and cool hats.

All the songs they played were hits and classic in their own right. They still had what it took to get everyone on their feet and played their instruments with the same flavor that has always characterized them. Synced in their steps and with noticeable rehearsed lines and interactions, the trio made many of us laugh and get excited in anticipation for each of the one-liners and skits that introduced most of the songs.

The only changes that occurred on stage were those of the guitars and basses that got exchanged to fit either in sound or with the theme of the songs such as the fur-guitars that were brought out for the song “Legs.”

After half a dozen songs I realized, in wonder and surprise, that after an unfortunate and long streak of “classic” bands that I had seen this year and that disappointed me greatly, that this was a show that I could simply sit back and enjoy, not having to think “why are they still doing this?” or “why didn’t they just quit 10 years ago”.

Gibbons’ voice aged but aged well and his guitar skills were as excellent as I had heard many times in their classic albums “Eliminator” and “Tres Hombres.” Dusty and Beard still brought together the classic ZZ Top rhythm and sound that enclosed so well the 3-chord guitar sound.

What else is there to say? A real delight to have seen them for the first time and long life to this weird classic trio of our rock history.

Setlist:
Got Me Under Pressure
I Thank You
Waitin’ for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Pearl Necklace
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
I Gotsta Get Paid
My Head’s in Mississippi
Sixteen Tons
Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
Just Got Paid
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs

Encore:
La Grange
Tush

Encore 2:
Jailhouse Rock

Review – Ricardo D. Flores

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