ZZ Top has released a powerful two part concert DVD and it’s an interesting concept as they present two performances 28 years apart.
Singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard formed the band in 1969 when they were all twenty years old. It is one of the few long term groups to have retained all its original members since its inception. They have always remained true to their boogie rock and blues foundation and while there may not be a lot of surprises, what they do is done extremely well. They have established themselves as one of the best hard rock bands in the business during the last four decades.
Disc one was filmed in 1980 for the German television Rockpalast series. It captures the band at the height of their commercial appeal. They play nine of the ten tracks from their Deguello album plus take material from such classics as Tres Hombres and Fandango.
It’s nice to see a young ZZ Top in action. Gibbons and Hill, with beards in place, have their synchronized guitar moves down pat and Frank Beard’s drumming appears effortless. The bass is turned way up and provides a firm foundation for Gibbons guitar work. They are one of those trios that manage to provide a full sound despite the lack of any accompanying musicians.
They present their complete 22 song concert. They begin with almost ten minutes of rock/blues. The old Sam & Dave classic “I Thank You” rolls right into “Waitin’ For The Bus” which becomes “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” The concert concludes with such rock classics as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Tush” and “Tube Snake Boogie.” When they rock, they really rock. They have always had a sense of humor and the center of the performance includes “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Arrested For Driving While Blind,” and “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers.”
Disc two was filmed on their 2008 tour. They decided to chronicle their seventy stop tour using only a single camera which gives the affair a different and in many ways an intimate feel.
2008 finds Gibbons, Hill, and Beard in their late fifties yet they are still cranking out their brand of rock. It’s interesting to hear “Jesus Left Chicago,” “Heard It On The X,” and “Tush” 28 years later. This DVD has a more documentary feel and is a nice companion to the first concert.
Double Down Live: 1980 – 2008 is a worthwhile addition to the ZZ Top catalog. It clearly shows that while the beards may have grayed over the years, the music has remained eternal.