By Keith Brake
When you hear the name Billy Gibbons a few things may come to mind, Texas, ZZ Top, the beard or maybe the overwhelming cool factor. But what you may not think of, a solo album and tour called The Big Bad Blues. Billy has teamed up with two exceptional musicians for this tour. Playing guitar alongside the Iconic ZZ Top front man is blues legend Austin Hanks while Matt Sorum of Guns N Roses fame holds down the drumming duties. The show in Saint Louis also showcased Benton Blount who gained notoriety on America’s Got Talent.
The weeknight event at The Pageant was setting up nicely as the fans made their way into the venue and at 8 O’clock sharp the show began. Benton Blount took the stage with his band and immediately got to work. Benton has a solid band backing his play but what stood out the most in his set to me was his incredible voice. Blount did his rendition of Jolene, originally by Dolly Parton, and the ever strengthening crowd erupted with appreciation. Blount’s set was solid all the way through and he was both enjoyable and entertaining, a fine way to start any show.
Billy took the stage in laid back fashion oozing coolness and charisma. It was noticeable immediately that this evening was going to be different from a ZZ Top performance and as the evening progressed the difference was all positive. ZZ has their show locked in and loaded for bare but on this night we got to see a different side of The reverend. He was engaging and laid back and seemed to be completely at ease with his fans. Don’t take me wrong, Billy is always engaging but it seemed a little special on this night.
The set included some selections from Billy’s new album as well as some ZZ Top material. The trio of Gibbons, Hanks and Sorum is magic and everything they touched in Saint Louis turned to gold. Song after song of raw blues rock and I loved every minute of it. The ZZ selections were close to what we are accustomed to hearing but just different enough to be reintroductions to already great songs, and any show that has a Bo Diddley cover is a sure homerun with me.
The Big Bad Blues tour is something that I would recommend to any ZZ Top fan or just a fan of the blues in general. The entire evening was a top notch performance from musicians that were doing and playing the music that they love and that purity certainly came thru in the performance. The tour rolls into Wabash IN next then on to Cleveland OH and if you are able, trust me here, buy a ticket and buckle in for a tremendous show!