Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Wrap Up

Well year number 47 for ZZ Top is in the books. And it was a year of highs and lows. Let's discuss how it all went down.

First the lows:

*** Dusty falling and injuring himself again  -

Honestly after further thought I don't believe there is a systemic issue per se, and from watching and listening to Dusty his health doesn't appear to be markedly declining. He has suffered two decent injuries in as many years which is never a good sign. I will briefly mention that he likely could benefit from a little weight loss but couldn't we all. Hopefully he stays positive and makes a note from all this to take good care of himself everyday.

*** Late September live performances

A period of four weeks or so from mid September through mid October or so proved to be a low point for the band in my opinion. A lot of dialing it in, short shows, skipping songs, etc. If the band members aren't really into a particular venue or locale then don't play there every year. There were a few instances where they had five days of shows in a row. Fatigue and disillusionment are bound to set in. How about spreading the concerts out more and playing longer shows? The co-headline with Gov't Mule also proved to be under utilized - what could have proved exciting turned out rather dull and mundane.

*** Lack of initiative, drive, creativity

I truly believe the boys love playing live together or else they wouldn't do it so much. But taking a step back to try something new whether it be playing some long forgotten deep cuts, or working on a few new songs, or bringing back a little creativity to the stage set up would go a long way. I'm disappointed that they are starting up touring again in February 2017 - I had hoped they would get in a little studio time to flesh out some ideas and frameworks that Billy has hinted at in the recent past.

Now the highs:

*** Synergy

When the group was on and engaged their playing was as good as ever. There is no better proof of this than a performance in Washington D.C. at the 9:30 club at the end of this past August. A packed small club venue was just what they needed to get the spark and remember the fun that can be had. A hot set was run for a longer than normal duration. This is a theme that has repeated itself, akin to Hamburg in 1991 or Barndance in Houston in 1996. They need to pursue gigs that they're interested in playing, not spending 200 days a year in a bus going from one town to the next.

......That's the only real high of the year in my opinion, but then again I'm rather objective so.....

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Here's to 2017 and any surprises it may bring!.....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ramblin' Man

Well it continues to be an inconsistent year for a historically consistent band. After canceling a bunch of dates in the spring due to Dusty's shoulder the group is now apparently canceling some late summer and early fall dates due to Gregg Allman's poor health. It's likely that some new dates will be added to fill in the gaps - at least that's what ZZ usually does.

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Speaking of this latest forced layoff, how about Gibbons, Sardy and Hardy getting to work on mixing some of those leftover Futura tracks? And Billy indicated the band was working on new material as well, one song in particular for a motorcycle documentary due out either later this year or next year. I suppose we can look forward to at least one new song from the group between now and 2018 right?

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The short European tour trek was an interesting affair. Thanks to a few of my good trading friends I managed to secure four recordings of the 2016 Euro dates. The "extended" show as ZZ puts it clocks in at around 75 minutes. Of course ZZ has always played short shows - I have a 1983 recording where the entire gig was 68 minutes. However, as a scrutinous fan was able to observe, that 1983 show only cost about 10 Euros (yes I know Euros didn't exist then, I'm comparing things here). The 2016 gig was eight times as much. And peers the same age as ZZ still play decently long gigs. Take that how you will.

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Notwithstanding the short duration I will say the Euro shows were impressive and rather enjoyable. The return of Rough Boy is welcome and Billy's soloing is as beautiful and softly melodic as always. Chartreuse and its heavily distorted metal outro has become a favorite, and Dusty continues to shine brightly on Catfish Blues. The group appears to still have that telepathic sense that has always served to produce a tight and funky grove. Good news indeed.

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Perhaps I sound like a broken record but shit I'm sick of Cheap Sunglasses. Almost 50 years of playing together and a huge catalogue to choose from - just play something else besides Sunglasses. You know Francine is a good tune right? Bang Bang is funky. Ten Foot Pole would draw some cheers (Billy played it on his recent solo tour). I mean come 'on, you gotta be sick of Sunglasses by now...

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Long story short - long live ZZ Top

Friday, June 24, 2016

Visions

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Something to Prove

Well after a forced hiatus to allow for Dusty's convalescing the band returns to the stage on June 23 in Birmingham England. No doubt favorable winds will be at their back as the band has always had a faithful and steady following in the UK and greater Europe. But does this show have more importance to it than the thousands that have come before?

ZZ has nothing to prove to anyone nor do they owe anyone anything. 47 years of playing and singing - they've done their part and more. But will they be trying to prove something to each other?

Do they still have it? Can they still operate as a full time band year after year? This is the second major injury for Dusty in a three year span. He's always been a little on the heavy side and smoked for decades. Time catches up to everyone, the members of the Top are no exception.

Maybe they come out with a better set list then what debuted earlier this year? Maybe they play a new song? Maybe they revert to that old fast sizzle and speed of younger days for a few tunes?

Many of the band's followers, those that have been there since the beginning, will of course smile and subconsciously overlook any signs of age or deterioration, whether in appearance, tenacity or skill. After all, they're all in this together. Younger fans like myself will admire and fully respect the years of toil and hard work they've dedicated to their labor of love, but consciously will recognize that finally, likely, their best years are behind them.

No one can do this forever. Better to have one list subtle reinvention and spark to go out on a high note. Let's see what type of future destiny Messrs.' Gibbons, Hill and Beard have elected for themselves.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Story So Far; Dusty injured

Well up until yesterday things were going pretty smooth. The tour was receiving good reviews and happy fans when Dusty apparently fell backstage yesterday evening and dislocated his shoulder. This is the second major injury for Dusty in the past two years. I don't think it means anything aside from bad luck - he's looked well up on the stage so I don't see any systemic issues afoot.

Anyways the tour has been indefinitely postponed and this type of injury can take four to six weeks to heal. One potential positive outcome is Billy and the guys head back into the studio due to the downtime and finish working on some tracks, maybe even get enough together for a new album (combined with some leftover La Futura cuts).

Lastly I haven't seen any live recordings pop up from this year. If anyone has taped a show or has a source on one please let me know.

Get well soon Dust!

Friday, March 25, 2016

2016 tour

Well the tour is in full swing. Many updates can be found over on ZZ's Facebook fan page (the unofficial one) however be mindful that the posts are often through rose colored glasses. Criticism of the band is not allowed so it's mostly "the greatest" and "amazing show" and all that stuff.

Here at Antenna Head News I've never really minced words and I plan to continue being candid. Case in point the new set list isn't really what I would call new. They added "Beer Drinkers" as the new opener, took away "Sixteen Tons" and also removed the BarBQue and Sloppy Drunk from "La Grange" (as least at some of the gigs). Its basically the same set list since 2014.

But I can't complain too much. The set list changes in 2012 and 2013 were amazing, so we can always hold out hope that some new and rare stuff will creep its way in.

As always I love to hear comments from others so share what's on your mind. As long as it pertains to ZZ I don't censor...

Friday, March 18, 2016

Opening Night

Well today is the day. ZZ once again meets spring with a new road show coming to a municipality near you. Thackerville, OK is first up - a casino that they really play pretty often. Must be a good draw for the area. After all what's better than drinking, gambling and ZZ...well I can think of a few things but no matter.

Just for fun I'll play the set list guessing game. First, the wishful thinking set list:

1) Under Pressure
2) Sleeping Bag
3) I Thank You
4) Bus
5) Jesus
6) Nationwide
7) Gotsta Get Paid
8) Ten Foot Pole
9) Fool For Your Stockings
10) New song off rumored upcoming release
11) Ten Dollar Man
12) Chartruese
13) Gimme
14) Sharp
15) Legs
Encore:
16) Viva
17) Grange
18) Tush
19) Sixteen Tons

and now for reality:

1) Pressure
2) Bus
3) Chicago
4) Pincushion
5) Nationwide
6) Gotsta Get Paid
7) Flyin High
8) X
9) Need You Tonight
10) Sunglasses
11) Foxy
12) Gimme
13) Sharp
14) Legs
Encore
15) Tube
16) Grange
17) Tush

Either way you never know...