The sound of ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard is unmistakable, their talent legendary. On Tuesday, Aug. 5, at the Idaho Center amphitheater, the evening darkened into a beautiful sunset that spilled over the grassy hills and the nearly sold-out crowd as we settled in for a night of classic rock. The audience represented a diverse group of fans, some who had seen ZZ Top many times over the last 30 years, and some just teens who recognize good rock when they hear it. Some people in the audience wore hats, sunglasses and long beards in homage to the rockers, while others appeared to be on some sort of rock-release program, dressed in bright orange jumpsuits.
After the sound check and after the crew stopped crisscrossing the stage in preparation, techno music suddenly blared out of giant speakers and the three rockers sauntered onto the stage. They launched into their set with "Waitin' For The Bus" and, for the rest of the night, the crowd clearly recognized the first riff of every song. The reference to Boise in "Train to Chicago" brought a giant roar from the crowd.
Gibbons addressed the audience saying, "You're all going to be here for awhile. You ready for this?" The crowd was definitely ready. He then introduced the members of the band and noted that the trio was "the same three guys" and pointed to his guitar saying "the same three chords." He told the crowd to call him Billy, Dilly or the Reverend, and joked that he had been called worse. The stage lights came on as the evening faded into night and the band from Texas treated the audience to "some low-down blues."
A roadie brought out a new guitar for Gibbons, who commented, "You gotta love a man who brings you a gold guitar." He played it in his easy, signature style and even did a little scoot across the stage busting into simultaneous moves with Hill who was equally impressive on the bass. Drummer Frank "Beardless" Beard kept the energy going through every song, including "Got Me Under Pressure," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "La Grange."
For "Cheap Sunglasses," the boys wore dark shades and even sported an extra pair atop their heads. They changed outfits once during the night and came back out in black leather coats that shimmered in the concert lighting.
The music was so good that the concert seemed to end much too soon. All of the sudden, it was 10 p.m., and the concert was over. Had they chosen to keep playing, the audience would gladly have stayed and listened to ZZ Top all night.