After a week of arduous and non-stop vacationing, I was wondering what would be the best possible way to end the week with a bang and get ready for… another week of vacation. So after not much thought, I found myself at Place Bell in Laval, ready with a can of beer, waiting for the grandfathers of rock to take the stage. I had never seen ZZ Top play live before and as for their music, I was only familiar with their hits. So, truth be told, I couldn’t call myself a hardcore fan. That said, I was excited to see them play, considering they are legends and all.
The show was opened by the mind-blowing The Damn Truth. This was a great surprise, considering I didn’t even know someone was going to open for the bearded legends. Not only that, but I had been wanting to get into The Damn Truth for a while now, so this was a great opportunity to not only hear their music, but see them play. Though they played a short set of only thirty minutes, The Damn Truth played it with such passion and energy that I was on the edge of my seat for the entire performance. This band seems like they were pulled right out of the 70s. Their singer has Janice Joplin chops, and they have a strong stage presence, making-do of the large stage at Place Bell. They played “Get With You” which is probably their most recognizable song (having been played on the radio quite a bit), and also my favorite of the night, “Too Late,” a bluesy song that gave me shivers. The slower tempo gave me enough time to appreciate the band’s incredible tone, tightness, and overall chemistry. As much as I loved ZZ Top later on, I have to give my “best band of the evening” award to the young blood, The Damn Truth. It was pure rock’n roll, loud and with a lot of attitude.
ZZ Top tore through their first song, “Got me Under Pressure”, like it was nothing. Already the crowed was on their feet and I’m sure I saw a bra being thrown on stage. Right off the bat, I noticed that the vocals were a little unbalanced. Dusty Hill, having a higher vocal range than Billy Gibbons, should have had his microphone set up not to overpower Billy’s when both sang in unison. That being said, either it was fixed or it just didn’t matter enough because by the third song I had already forgotten about it. These gentlemen are old (let’s not pretend like they are in their prime), so their stage presence took a hit, but I still felt as if they had mastery over the room. It must be the beards; they ooze with dominance!
Whatever ZZ Top does, they do it in style, from their synchronized movements to having a roadie run on stage to light Billy Gibson’s cigarette. They even did a costume change and brought out their weird, furry guitars for their classic song, “Legs.” By “Sharp Dressed Man,” everyone was dancing. Even the security lady who passed by my seat was dancing on the job! ZZ Top are also always in synch, which impressed me a great deal. Younger bands with simpler songs often find it hard to stay in synch for a long set, but these guys did it for two hours and they are all WAY past adolescence. Frank Beard plays a mean drum and still hits hard, making it easier for his bearded friends to feel at ease and do their thing. You can tell these guys still enjoy playing together even after all this time. At the end of their set, we were treated with their cover of Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock,” which truly ended the show on a high note.
By the time I went home, I was still whistling the rhythm of “Tush.” ZZ Top and The Damn Truth put on one heck of a show, one that will surely be remembered. Hopefully, ZZ Top will be back in town again to show us that age is only a number!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Kate Erickson