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Under Review: An A+ for ZZ Top

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons flank the stage with Frank Beard on drums during Wednesday night’s ZZ Top concert at Westman Place.

BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons flank the stage with Frank Beard on drums during Wednesday night’s ZZ Top concert at Westman Place.

Brandon’s classic rock review continued last night, this time with MTV-generation mainstays, ZZ Top.

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top entertained their fans on stage during Wednesday night's concert at Westman Place.

Enlarge Image

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top entertained their fans on stage during Wednesday night's concert at Westman Place. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top entertained their fans on stage during Wednesday night's concert at Westman Place.

Enlarge Image

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top entertained their fans on stage during Wednesday night's concert at Westman Place. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)

For a band that held the spotlight throughout the ’70s and ’80s, this trio still knows how to rock and really roll out a show.

For the 3,642 fans in Westman Place in the Keystone Centre, the latest period piece to plow through the Wheat City — Mötley Crüe, KISS and Heart were the others in recent times — delivered what it was supposed to and spent little time on new material.

That number of fans was in the ballpark with the 3,552 for KISS (with its very expensive tickets) and 4,010 for Mötley Crüe. Last night that meant 19 per cent of available seats were, well, available.

The staging was the sparsest yet offered by the big-name classic rockers who have been picking up extra pocket cash by playing Brandon, usually the night before an appearance at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.

However, while KISS and Crüe brought pretty much all of the glam and glitter, pyro and props folks in larger centres would enjoy, ZZ Top performed on a smallish, unadorned stage with simple lighting and two small video screens flanking Frank Beard’s drum kit.

That allowed more focus to be on the music.

The legendary Southern rockers have a timeless sound that appeals to a wide variety of folks, hence the largely older group of people in attendance last night — but more than a few younger types were sprinkled about.

The expected 18-song set (with what has included a two-song encore on this "La Futura" tour, named for its 15th studio album) kicked off with a poor mix and "Got Me Under Pressure," from the 1983 album "Eliminator."

The mix got together and the volume louder by the fourth tune — and major hit — "Gimme All Your Lovin’", followed by a kinda sloppy version of "I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide."

Clad in nearly identical rhinestone embroidered jackets, dark pants and beige fedoras, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons and bassist and co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill did look their age underneath all that facial hair.

But while there might be a few more miles of gravel on their sweaty pipes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members showed they can still muster up some sexy soul and swagger.

By press time — after a steamy delivery of "I Gotsta Get Paid," an example of some newer material from the band that harkens back to its 1969 beginnings, while pinning itself into modern times — the trio was sliding on some "Cheap Sunglasses."

It had yet to offer "Sharp Dressed Man," "La Grange" or "Legs."

Flash Lightnin’ opened the show with its critically-defined "stompin’ boogie woogie" that played to a half-empty arena as people were making their way into the venue.

Some long lines at the security entrances — and at the liquor stands inside on the mezzanine — meant the Toronto-based power trio had to dig deep for inspiration to put on a show for the few folks on the floor who seemed to be engaged by the band.

The "La Futura" tour stops into Winnipeg’s MTS Centre tonight.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 13, 2014

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Brandon’s classic rock review continued last night, this time with MTV-generation mainstays, ZZ Top.

For a band that held the spotlight throughout the ’70s and ’80s, this trio still knows how to rock and really roll out a show.

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Brandon’s classic rock review continued last night, this time with MTV-generation mainstays, ZZ Top.

For a band that held the spotlight throughout the ’70s and ’80s, this trio still knows how to rock and really roll out a show.

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