The Renegade Rip

CONCERT REVIEWZZ Top kicks ‘Tush’ at Garden

Jeff Eagan

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Hours before the trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard of ZZ Top graced the stage at Centennial Garden, their arrival was celebrated by the myriad of beer-drinking and hell-raising fans roaming the halls of Centennial Garden.

Though their music has always spoken for itself, ZZ Top was no less demure when making their entrance. They paraded onstage in maroon and sterling sequined cowboy suits and matching hats gleaming rays of spotlight ostentatiously into the deer-eyed front row. The blond sheen of their slowly graying beards bristled with every soft chime of the commencing chorus on “Gimme All Your Lovin’.”

Gibbons satiated all the gas-guzzling nitro heads with their fifth song “Manic Mechanic.”

“This is for all the wrench turners, panel beaters and gearheads,” he said.

The deep drawl of bassist Dusty Hill resounded warmly through the ears of fans encompassing all four corners of Bakersfield.

The crowd ranged from the primly dressed blue collar heads-of-household in the luxury suites to the groups of leather laden bikers sporting Harley Davidson T-shirts below them. And in front of me sat the obligatory cocky, tight-jeaned mullet heads close enough to smell.

The cheers of the audience were only a live soundtrack that would not soon be forgotten. ZZ Top proudly reached deep into their musical repertoire spanning three decades with classic rock radio staples such as “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.”

Before their next song Gibbons intoduced their drummer, Frank Beard, who for those of you who don’t know, is the ironic lone ranger in ZZ Top not sporting the elongated trademark beard.

Gibbons was more loquacious with his constituency than most aging rock stars to grace the Centennial Garden’s stage. In the spirit of their new album “Mescalero” they poured two tequila shots and toasted with delight to the vivacity the audience emanated.

They continued their tradition without hesitation as they strapped on the white fur-lined guitars for the much anticipated “Legs.” But there was no guitar spinning to be had, and neither was one of my favorites, “Pearl Necklace.” However, redemption was as close as the next few songs, “It’s Bad” and “Buck Naked,” off their new album. They had a sound, that although staid in their tradition both musically and lyrically, kept the crowd fresh with exuberance.

Bred in Texas, and steeped in the regional convergence of blues, the soulful “Blues on Bourbon Street” exercised the true chops of guitarist Gibbons as he diverged several times into portentous, awe-inspiring solos. The deep bellow of Hill’s voice, emotionally cathartic, resonated succinctly with the deep cry of Gibbon’s vintage Bo Diddley guitar.

For the encore ZZ Top delayed their reappearance for quite awhile. It was somewhat expected, but not too obvious as the much loved “Tush” was chosen for the night’s end. Hill and Gibbons bobbed to and fro in rhythm, as Gibbons howled the chorus in an apparent extended version of the song.

And from behind the smoke of Gibbons’ cigar, they both postured, leaning back, stroking their beards with smug satisfaction. And I must maintain that ZZ Top might be the only band, or humans for that matter, cool enough to pull off wearing dark sunglasses throughout an entire show.

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CONCERT REVIEWZZ Top kicks ‘Tush’ at Garden