ZZ Top (@ Ramblin’ Man Fair 2017) http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/88/f7/72/ZZ-Top-Ramblin-Man-2017-Live-Thumb-60-1502375091.jpg

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 10, 2017    
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ZZ Top - Ramblin’ Man Fair, Maidstone (UK) - 30 July 2017

Of the many beards on parade at this year's Ramblin' Man Fair, there were only the two that really mattered - three if you count the drummer's surname - as ZZ Top synchronised their stroll onto the stage as Ramblin' 2017 weekend headliners.

Armed with a Texan drawl that can charm the skin off a rattlesnake, Billy Gibbons knows just how to play an audience as he, and Dusty Hill, revved up the turbo riff to 'Got Me Under Pressure'. 'Have Mercy' sang Gibbons and Hill, as the boogie riff to 'Waitin' for the Bus' sizzled and snaked out of the superb sound stage speaker system - not often to be found at most festivals.

Then the sleazy guitar growl of 'Jesus Just Left Chicago' showcased Gibbons' mean blues licks and slick foot moves. The extended musical workout - with Dusty Hill locking down a low end bass groove - reminding that this 'lil ole band from Texas' haven't forgotten their bar-room blues roots! But it was the familiar chords to 'Gimme All Your Lovin' that brought the loudest cheer from the audience, who busted a few of their own moves to this crunchy good-time jukebox favourite. Most remember this songs heavy rotation on MTV - which broke the band into the 'big time' - that established the band as top international artists.

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'The Top' have always been a band that loves to incorporate both humour and irony, with a sharp sense for the ridiculous, into their songs. Never more so than on the lyrics to 'Pincushion' with its unforgettable couplet: 'I'm getting pricked around and punctureated. I let my ya ya down, I got penetrated' to the loud and general amusement of the sold out crowd. Clearly a band that would be a perfect fit playing at the end of a pier, as they are at headlining the great concert halls and festivals around the globe. This they re-inforced by playing a definitive cover version of Hendrix's 'Foxy Lady' in a run that included 'Catfish Blues' and Merle Travis' 'Sixteen Tons' involving the effortless slide guitar work from Gibbons' middle finger.

I remember being first alerted to the band when they played 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' in support of the just released 'Deguello' album. So an inch-tight take, with its seductive twangs of tone, on 'Cheap Sunglasses' delighted all the back in the day fans of the band as Gibbons and Hill smiled their whitest of enamelled teeth smile. Then it was time to get all fluffy - as they finished up their main set - by strapping on 'furry' guitars for a sonic stretch out on 'Legs', bringing their inimitable and unique guitar moves back to the fore, again.

No ZZ Top set - or a festival named after an Allman Brothers song - would be complete without the heads down boogie of 'La Grange' and 'Tush'! This seemed a perfect ending to a fabulous, friendly festival that grows from strength to strength each year. But, then, the band re-appeared to nail down a boogie take on Elvis' 'Jailhouse Rock' leaving everyone to ramble on home or back to the bar.

Always a superb and highly entertaining live band. The only proviso being that an album of fresh new songs would be most welcome anytime soon?

Words and photo by Paul Davies

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