Blues & Bayous Tour
The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theatre
June 20, 2018
ZZ Top is known as the Little Ol' Band From Texas and for the past forty-seven years, since the release of ZZ Top's First Album (London Records, 1971), it has been delivering a signature blues, boogie-woogie, hard rock, barrelhouse, Southern rock, heavy metal, new wave, punk, and synth-rock mélange that cannot and has not been duplicated. The band is known for its MTV hits: “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Ma” and “Legs,” and well as its classic tunes “Tush,” “La Grange,” “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” ZZ Top is comprised of Billy Gibbons (guitar and vocals), Dusty hill (bass/vocals) and drummer Frank Beard (who ironically is the only member of the band who does not have facial hair down to his mid chest). Over the course of its career, ZZ Top has recorded multiple gold and platinum records, received numerous MTV Video Award nominations and wins and won Grammy awards in 1984 and 1987. The band was inducted into the <em>Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame</em> in 1993.
For almost fifty years, John Fogerty has been a rock icon. His musical style runs that gamut: Americana, roots rock, Southern rock, psychedelia, swamp rock, country, rockabilly, blues and pop. The best description might well be—good, old fashioned, bonafide rock 'n' roll. Along with drummer Doug Clifford, bassist Stu Cook, and his brother, guitarist Tom Fogerty, he founded Creedence Clearwater Revival, for which he was the lead singer, lead guitarist and principal songwriter. Following the demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty embarked on a very successful solo career. His songs comprise a good part of the soundtrack of the past five decades: "Hey Tonight," "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Born on the Bayou," "Centerfield," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?," "Fortunate Son," "Bad Moon Rising, "Proud Mary" and "Rock 'n' Roll Girls" are but a few of the songs that Fogerty has written and sung. He was listed on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists (at number 40) and the list of 100 Greatest Singers (at number 72). Nominated eight times, Fogerty has won one Grammy Award—in 1998 for Best Rock Album for Blue Moon Swamp (Warner Brothers, 1997). Fogerty was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
On this evening, Fogerty was the opener. When he appeared on stage he was wearing his trademark checkered flannel shirt and immediately got down to it with “Traveling Band.” The hits-filled tour-de-force performance was heavy on Creedence tunes, but did not neglect his solo canon. Rolling through hit after hit, Fogerty looked and sounded fantastic! His voice was strong and his guitar-playing spot-on. Fogerty’s twenty song main set could be viewed as a lesson on how to rock and roll, The audience spent the entire evening either danicing in the aisles or on the edge of its seat as Fogerty held them in the palm of his hand from the ringing of the first note through the thundering applause of the last encore.
Fogerty’s band (Kenny Aronoff on drums, James LoMenzo on bass, Bob Malone on keys and his son Shane Fogerty on guitar) was truly a well-oiled machine delivering note-perfect renditions of the classic tunes. These classics included: “Hey Tonight,” “Who'll Stop the Rain” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” “Up Around the Bend,” and so many more. For good measure, Fogerty and his cohorts also included “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” which Creedence covered back in the day. Surprises included the jamming version of “Keep on Chooglin’” and “Holy Grail,” which featured Gibbons, who was introduced by Fogerty as “one of my favorite guitar players of all time.” The song was a revelation, a collaboration that sounded modern and retro at once. There was another semi-collaborative performance. Brad Paisley was seen on the video screen for “Love and War,” a tribute to our veterans.
The concert was billed as the Blues and Bayous Tour. The plan was for ZZ Top to bring the blues and Fogerty would be bringing the bayou. It may come as a surprise to some, but is not from Louisiana or the bayou. He is from Berkeley, CA. His music, though, has a swampy and New Orleans feel. As such, his set included Hank Williams, Sr.’s “Jambalaya” and a rockin’ version of Gary “U.S.” Bonds’ “New Orleans,” as well as CCR’s classic “Born On the Bayou.”
The main set wound down with “Down On The Corner,” the solo smash “Centerfield” (on which Fogerty jammed on his baseball bat guitar), another solo hit “The Old Man Down the Road” and a powerful, timely and impassioned version of his anti-war anthem “Fortunate Son.”
The audience was spent, but Fogerty wasn’t finished. He had another two aces up his sleeve. The encores were driving and amazing versions of “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary”—two tunes that, after the twenty powerhouse songs played in the main set, served as an even bigger reminder of just how many great songs Fogerty has bestowed upon the public. At 73 years of age, John Fogerty has not slowed down. He is still the man. He’s the definition of the phrase “living legend.”
After a brief intermission, ZZ Top (bassist Hill wearing his trademark cowboy hat; guitarist Gibbons was dressed in his customary black stage uniform and dark sunglasses and drummer Beard, who was barely visible behind his customized drum set) hit the stage just as the drizzle began. The audience rose to its feet and cheered lustily and the band launched into a high energy version of “Got Me Under Pressure.”
Unfortunately, due to time constraints forced by both noise restrictions and rain, ZZ Top’s set was cut short. The band was tight, the riffs were beefy and the rhythm was funky, the vocals were strong but the weather was not in Gibbons’ Hill’s and Beard’s corner. Still, the night’s set was filled with classic hits and choice covers. Even with the truncated set, the audience members were treated to a set comprised of almost everything that they came to hear. Highlights included: “I Thank you,” “Waitin' for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide” and “I Gotsta Get Paid.” The Merle Haggard cover, “Sixteen Tons” as well as “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” were both warmly received. The main set ended with the pedal to the metal on “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs.”
Even though the skies were about to open, the band provided a powerful two song encore consisting of “La Grange” and “Tush.” Sadly, that’s all there was, as the band left the stage and it began to rain harder.
It was a shame as the performance was top-notch. Had the weather and time cooperated it would have been fantastic. Gibbons nailed every solo and his guitar rang though on every song. Hill’s bass thumped and reverberated along with Beard’s backbeat providing the perfect rhythmic foil to Gibbons’ amazing fretwork.