On Tuesday night, legendary ZZ Top Guitarist Billy Gibbons performed an intimate show with friends at B.B. King Blues Club in Times Square, NYC. His backing band consisted of Anton Fig (drums), Will Lee (bass), Mike Flanigin (keys/piano), and Martin Guigui (keys/piano). The night consisted of Billy sharing stories and playing covers of some of his favorite songs, as well as his own material from ZZ Top.
It was a packed house as fans were anxiously awaiting for Billy to take the stage. At 8:30 PM, the backing band came out first to warm up the crowd with an instrumental jam that featured short solos from Mr. Flanigin, Mr. Fig, and Mr. Lee. After the jam, Mr. Gibbons was introduced and took the stage to a loud round of applause. "Let's have a party!" Billy shouted out, as he professed his love for drinking wine. The band then went into a quick, rocking song that had the elements of a 1950's tune. After the song, Billy joked that for his whole life he's only known three chords. If that's the case, then he's made an outstanding career knowing only those three!
Billy and friends continued on with the next two songs also from the ZZ Top catalog: "Thunderbird" and "I Thank You." Fans familiar with both songs were singing along as Billy, in that raspy trademark voice of his, thanked us for coming out tonight. Next, Billy shared a memory that he had when he was 17 years old and met Jimi Hendrix while staying in the same hotel. Billy joked that Jeff Beck was an idol of Jimi's, and while Beck had invented sounds on the guitar, Jimi was inventing sounds from the guitar that Mr. Beck hadn't even thought of. It was obvious that Billy is a big Jimi fan and he played covers of "Foxey Lady" and "Rock Me Baby" in dedication to him.
Billy shared a story about why he plays with light gauge strings. He used to think that the heavier the strings on the guitar, the louder the sound you'd get. When he gave his guitar to the great bluesman B.B. King, he asked Billy, "Why you trying so hard?" The audience laughed, as did Billy. A great piece of advice from a great teacher. Then, from a table nearby, a fan gave Billy a birthday card (he celebrated a birthday the day prior). The band played a slow blues tune and afterward Billy was presented with a birthday cake. The band, along with the audience, joyously came together to sing happy birthday to him.
"Get Out My Life Woman" was played next and it had all the men who ever wished a woman would leave their life singing along. Following this, it was the females' turn to sing along as the band transformed the Nancy Sinatra classic "These Boots Were Made For Walking" into a slow blues shuffle. Mike Flanigin contributed with a soulful organ solo midway through the song. The 1983 ZZ Top song "Sharp Dressed Man" had the room once again singing along. "La Grange," from 1973's Tres Hombres and the classic Slim Harpo song "Shake Your Hips" closed out the set to a roomful of fans out of their seats and shaking their hips. Fans were very appreciative when Billy and the band came out for an encore; a fast paced version of the Elvis Presley hit "Jailhouse Rock."
This wasn't a full scale concert and certainly the theatrics were kept to a bare minimum. It was an intimate, light hearted gathering of friends and fans coming together to see a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in a loose atmosphere doing what he does best and loves most: playing music and entertaining a crowd. This was a show that will be remembered by all who were there.