Monday, May 13, 2013

The Little Old Band from Texas Plays New Jersey

Saturday night it was off to New Jersey to see ZZ Top.  Family and friends got me tickets for a recent birthday.  Really good tickets.  When we got there, we were shocked.. we sat about ten rows back from the stage.

Since we don't spend much time in New Jersey (thankfully and in spite of being born there), our first stop was Mapquest.  There's always an adventure with Mapquest; perhaps we like the pain.   Here's a tip for anyone living in Pennsylvania who has to use I-76: don't.  I-76, otherwise known as the Surekill Expressway, is a disaster.  Any time of night or day, there is a traffic jam.  There are several rolling traffic jams.  There are sporadic traffic jams, as well as traffic jams just for the hell of it.  The most special traffic jams are leftyJams.  These are the traffic jams that pop up whenever I need to drive on the Surekill.  They're the worst and they're a certainty, whether it's Saturday night at 7pm or Sunday morning at 4am.

The best thing that could happen to PA highways would be spontaneous combustion, followed by the building of real highways.

Crossing into New Jersey was a blast too.  While the highways are less congested, the drivers could use a bit of spontaneous combustion.  Some of their driving skills would be more appropriate for an Indy car race, others for a demolition derby.

The venue was the Revel Casino.  I had never heard of it and didn't even know it was a casino until Mapquest.  Funny thing about Mapquest: they gave street-by-street directions, which directly opposed the Atlantic City signage for the casinos themselves.  We decided to go with signage, which proved correct, if not confusing.

The casino is nice.  It must be, as a coworker said it's going out of business.  The casino signage was largely nonexistent but we managed to tag along behind some other Top enthusiasts.

They started out with these folks projected on the screens:

and the girl....

the girl show up prominently thoughout the show, as one would imagine.

The view was stunning [click for larger versions]:

The venue was just the right size.  This is just behind our row:

Every tour the boys get new Custom Shop guitars.  This year they were purple:

Billy's Les Paul (not the famous Pearly Gates) had a beautiful top:

The Reverend BFG holding court:

They played Legs too.


So how was the concert?

Well, if the pics are any indication, it was excellent.  We were closer than we have ever been.  I have seen ZZ Top once before but this was Mrs leftystrat's first time and she was pleased.

The experience can only described as visceral, especially the sound.  We were getting smacked in the chest by the low end.  We got hit with every bass drum hit.  In spite of having only three instruments to mix, we were missing the bass a lot.  The quality of the sound was very high, though.

We would definitely go back to the Revel for any concert, assuming they stay operational.  The Borgata is another excellent venue.

The Rev Billy was in fine form throughout, fronting like only he can.  The boys pulled up a number of songs not heard live, such as Certified Blues from the first album.  I didn't make a list but they did Tush,  Blue Jean Blues, Heard it on the X, Gots Ta Get Paid, Chartreuse, Waitin' for the Bus, Jesus Just Left Chicago and ran for about ninety minutes with one encore.

Two young Asian ladies sat next to us.  Oddly enough, I quickly forgot about them but the wife was most interested, being a people watcher.  English was not their first language, perhaps not their second either.  They were obviously not huge Top fans, as they didn't know the words or the songs.  They seemed to watch everyone else for cues as to what to do.  The one thing I did see was the repetitive taking of vanity self-shots.  The crowd was largely thirty and up.  All the way up.

No serious amps were visible but there were a pair of Magnatones on each side, most likely for show.  All of Dusty's basses had reverse headstocks and a Tele-style pickup.  This year's purple Fender Tele that Billy used had a humbucker in the rear.  He also used the Les Paul, the Furry Guitar and an Explorer, which sounded slightly better than the rest.

Due to the nature of Billy's rig, whatever he plugs in is going to sound largely the same.  If you go to Premier Guitar's site and check out his rig rundown, you will see that each guitar is equalized to sound just like his famous Les Paul, Pearly Gates, then run through a Marshall preamp.

I got the t-shirt, the wife got the keychain.  An excellent time was had by all.  We're ready for the next tour, fellas....

Extreme gratitude to my crew for the tickets.

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