Looking lean and playing mean in his buff toned overalls, a forever cool Billy Gibbons instantly became onesie with an excited audience as he let the good times roll ripping into ZZ Top belter Under Pressure.

Words & Images: Paul Davis

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His sharp profile as thin as a razor blade, with a low slung guitar, the dapper bearded Billy was right on the money as tonight’s fans cashed in on a scintillating setlist. Following More, More, More, from his 2021 Hardware solo album, third song in was a jaunty cover of Hambone Willie Newbern’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’ which became the BFG’s playful credo as they got deep down into their greasy groove.“Thanks for having us here tonight. We’re feeling a long way from home, so let’s do a little Texas shuffle,” proclaimed Billy as Beer Drinkers And Hellraisers, from ZZ’s classic Tres Hombres album, preceded the boogie-some new tune The Devil Is Red. All of which, so far, geared up the thrills which went into overdrive as ace drummer John Douglas, banging a tight beat, heralded in Gimme All Your Lovin to resoundingly ratchet up the collective vibe.

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Tonight, a relaxed and playful Billy Gibbons honoured his long term fans with a setlist of deep cut rarely played live ZZ Top songs including Blue Jean Blues, Thunderbird, Brown Sugar and Tube Snake Boogie, Dealing out guitar notes as if they’re a musical money roll, with Austin Hanks backing up a heavy load of rhythms on twin designed guitars and stetsons, the BFG’s brought a heavy flavour of the Lone Star State to West London. Generously sharing anecdotes, “You know, I was a friend of Jimi Hendrix. I was in a band, The Moving Sidewalks, and we opened for him .The contract stipulated a 40 minute set and we only had a 35 minute set, so we played two Hendrix numbers and side stage was Jimi. He collared me and we became great friends,” shared Billy as he, and Austin, launched into a rumbling Foxy Lady. A slightly slower tempo Sharp Dressed Man cut a welcome long shadow back to ZZ Top’s glorious MTV days.“I’m gonna do that thing” skitted Billy prior to the boogie riff of Le Grange; a riff that inspired innumerable song intros from praiseful imitators. Not losing his timing in his musical and comical between song patter, the effortlessly cool 73 year old played a tight and supremely entertaining eighty minute set of solo, ZZ Top hits and rarities and favourite cover songs during a memorable low down in the groove evening of gritty blues music to cherish for a long, long, long time.