TVD Live Shots: ZZ Top at Beacon Theatre, 3/1

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 50 years since ZZ Top formed back in Houston Texas. For one reason or another, I’ve never seen the band live and thought it was about time I do so. That opportunity came during a recent work trip to New York City where I found out the band would be playing at the legendary Beacon Theater. Even though I had to deliver a speech the next day at a tech marketing conference, I jumped on the opportunity. On top of that, I was able to score a photo pass to get my gear inside.

Having never shot at the Beacon before, to say that it was a challenge is an understatement. We were limited to the far sides of the stage and with all the photogs piled up on one side, I ran to the other and had stage left all to myself. I quickly realized that the duo of Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons tend to cater toward stage right, so I was in quite a difficult position. Regardless, I did what I had to do to get some decent shots. Did I miss the big EPIC ones? Yeah, maybe. But there were half a dozen photogs on the other side to get those shots. I was going to pull a George Constanza (and do the opposite).

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You would never guess that these guys have been jamming for close to five decades as they came out on fire with “Got Me Under Pressure” as the opener. Up next was “Waitin’ for the Bus,” right into “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” Then it was time for a couple of hits before diving into a blues extravaganza including a slowed down, boozy version of the Hendrix classic “Foxy Lady.” The rest of the set was a jam-palooza of ZZ Top staples old and new, topped off with a finale of the King’s signature track “Jailhouse Rock.”

All hail the Texas blues kings and all that they have given back to the rock ‘n’ roll community. By the way, this show made me bust out the diamond selling masterpiece Eliminator on vinyl, and oh man does this record still hold up. I blasted it through a John Varvatos Marshall self speaker and I couldn’t get it past six without frightening the neighbors—or maybe they were just dancing.

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