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ZZ Top and Jeff Beck - live and in concert

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
Tina Hagerling. tinasimages.com

ZZ Top and Jeff Beck at Fiddler's Green Amphitheater (8-20-14)

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ZZ Top and Jeff Beck played at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Colorado last Wednesday night (August 20, 2014). And these guys put on a clinic.

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck is one of the best guitar players of all time. He can play 100 mph and dazzle you, or he can play three heartfelt notes and warm your soul. He can also make his guitar talk - as evidenced in the song ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers’. And when you see him live, you are never quite sure what you are going to get. On Wednesday night, Beck gave us a little bit of all of the above, but mostly it just seemed like he was having fun - a man absolutely in his element.

The setlist was highly entertaining - containing covers such as ‘A Day In The Life’ by the Beatles and ‘Superstitious’ by Stevie Wonder. Other highlights included the steady, groovin’ ‘Big Block’ and Beck’s version of the mournful Irish folk song ‘Danny Boy’. And, of course, the finale was ‘Going Down’. ‘Going Down’ was written by a band called Moloch in the late ‘60s. It has been covered by a myriad of top notch musicians (Freddie King, JJ Cale, Joe Satriani, and Warren Haynes, to name just a few), but Beck has really made it his own.

Jeff Beck has so many facets to his playing, and they are all amazing in their own way. Two shining examples of his brilliance are: ‘Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop’ (with Tony Hymas on keys and Terry Bozzio on drums) and ‘Amused To Death’ (a Roger Waters’ solo album).

ZZ TOP

The tres hombres from ZZ Top are living legends and true professionals. These guys just emanate COOL. The beards, the sunglasses, the hats, even the little hand gestures and dance steps - soooo Rock ‘N’ Roll. Their musicianship is top notch - they really don’t miss a note. ZZ Top defines the old saying -”the great ones make it look easy”.

ZZ is the same three guys since 1969. (Do you think that type of longevity might lead to a band being tight?) The band has a rock solid rhythm section featuring Dusty Hill on bass and Frank Beard on drums - great pocket players. Then there is the bandleader and guitarist Billy Gibbons. Gibbons style is so fluid and smooth - smooth as silk. But he still puts a little raunch in there. He also just seems to play the exact right number of notes - a little flash here and there, but mostly he plays for the song.

ZZ’s setlist was fairly standard issue - but that’s what you want from them. Songs like ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, ‘Legs’ and ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ will never get old - great numbers on the ‘let’s have fun and party’ side of the spectrum. Then you got the older blues classics like ‘Waitin’ For The Bus’ and ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago’ - good stuff! And the boys slipped in a couple covers as well - ‘Catfish Blues’ by Muddy Waters and ‘Foxey Lady’ by Jimi Hendrix - love it! (by the by - Hendrix called Gibbons the best blues guitar player in the world).

For the encore, Jeff Beck returned to the stage for a jam session including ZZ Top standards ‘La Grange’ and ‘Tush’ flush with lotsa guitar pyrotechnics that drove home the fact that we were witnessing world class playing.

This was one helluva show!

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