ZZ Top plays first concert in Alabama since bassist Dusty Hill's death

When ZZ Top took to the stage on Friday night in Alabama for its first appearance since Dusty Hill's death earlier this week, it could have been 1975 or '85 or '95, 2005 or 2015, by sounds and looks. except for the differently haired man on the bass.
The band's 20-year-old guitar technician, Elwood Francis, who has been on bass since Hill fell ill earlier this month, wore ZZ Top-appropriate wild white hair from head to chest and, like guitarist and vocalist Billy Gibbons, never wore his dark suit or sunglasses .
Aside from swinging sheepskin-covered guitars during "Legs," Francis stayed rock solid, knocking on a worn red lacquer with claw-like scratches on the Fender Precision bass. Gibbons started and stayed most of the night on a matching red and wood grain Telecaster, though he used Gretsch models for slide parts on "Just Got Paid" from the band's '72 "Rio Grande Mud" album and another Bo. brought out Diddley box, in basic red, not fur, for the encore.
ZZ Top will play at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday, July 30, 2021, following the death of bassist Dusty Hill. Elwood Francis, left, replaced Hill on bass and joined Frank Beard on drums and Billy Gibbons on lead guitar and vocals. [Staff photo / Gary Cosby Jr.]
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Most in the well-filled hall - there were vacancies but only a few dozen in the pit and a scatter to the higher seats - rose and whistled from the first to the last note, even those whose hair was still 70s had grown entirely in white, their vintage T-shirts "Eliminator" and "Recycler" worn out by age.
More: Dusty Hill, ZZ top bassist and induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, dies at the age of 72
The set was plain, simple and yet in the classic showmanship style of ZZ Top. Frank Beard's massive double bass drum kit - with either beer kegs or drag racing fuel tanks on the fronts - took center stage, flanked by stacks of Magnatone amps. Illuminated microphone stands - unlike Hill, who sang the lead role on "Tush", "Heard it on the X" and co-lead on "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" - Francis did not sing - glowed circumferential rings from ZZs. in shades that match the spectrum of the projected lights and the star-shaped background.
They started with "Got Me Under Pressure," another 1983 hit, at which point Gibbons spoke into the microphone, "Whooooeee. We're going to have a good time tonight." He then confirmed Hill's death and her decision to continue with the tour.
"Dusty gave me the instruction," said Gibbons and then introduced her boyfriend on bass. "And we thank you," he said and started their cover of Sam & Dave's "I Thank You".
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From then on they plunged back into the 70s, with the often paired songs that opened their groundbreaking 73 album “Tres Hombres”, the chicken picker “Waiting for the Bus All Day” and the slow jam “Jesus Just Left” . Chicago."
On Friday night, Gibbons both played what fans expected, including note-for-note solos and riffs from the bigger hits, stretching out on the lesser-known "I Gotsta Get Paid" from 2012's La Futura, the newest studio -CD and in a longer solo intro to "Brown Sugar", not the Jagger-Richards hit, but his own composition, second song of the 1971 "ZZ Top's First Album".
ZZ Top will play at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday, July 30, 2021, following the death of bassist Dusty Hill. Elwood Francis played bass instead of Hill during the Friday night concert. [Staff photo / Gary Cosby Jr.]
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ZZ Top will play at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday, July 30, 2021, following the death of bassist Dusty Hill. Billy Gibbons plays guitar and sings during the Friday night concert. [Staff photo / Gary Cosby Jr.]
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The set continued to stretch for decades, featuring 80s hits "Gimme All Your Lovin", "Pearl Necklace" and "Sharp Dressed Man" as well as 1979 "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" before their core set enveloped with "legs".
After a short break, the band came back with "Brown Sugar", the only relatively rare selection of the night. “I say we're going back. I mean far, far back, ”said Gibbons.
ZZ Top will play at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday, July 30, 2021, following the death of bassist Dusty Hill. Elwood Francis played bass instead of Hill during the Friday night concert. [Staff photo / Gary Cosby Jr.]
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The trio concluded with "Tush," in which Gibbons stretched to sing Hill's tenor lines. In the middle of the slide solo, Gibbons lit a cigar with the assistance of a roadie, another classic piece of standard shtick that indicated the night, tonight anyway, was coming to an end.
This article originally appeared in The Tuscaloosa News: Dusty Hill recalled ZZ Top's first show since the bassist's death
In this article:
Dusty hill
Bassist and co-singer of the American rock group ZZ Top
Billy Gibbons
American musician

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