REVIEW: ZZ Top and Cheap Trick bring Classic Rock to it’s finest crowd on 2022 tour

ZZ Top brings their classic rock / blues sound East!

If there’s one thing that will never change, Atlantic Canada can’t resist the classic rock sound, the shredding electric guitar, the thumping bass, and thunderous percussion beats. Whether it’s AC/DC, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and countless others, we’ve had it all in the past four to five decades. Fans have been filling the streets in black jeans and torn-up tour tees for years, and this last week has been no exception, with ZZ Top and Cheap Trick once again taking over our arenas.

The Texas blues/rock icons “A Celebration with ZZ Top” tour finally made it’s way to us following a two year wait, beginning in Halifax on Tuesday and wrapping up last night following a double stop in St. John’s NL.

Atlantic Canada Rocks had the pleasure of covering the opening night of the East Coast dates in Halifax on Tuesday evening. A nearly sold out crowd entered the Scotiabank Centre for music that would begin at 7pm.

Cheap Trick

When Cheap Trick took the stage, their goal was to not just warm up the stage for ZZ Top, but perform a complete 15 song set, making the Halifax crowd feel they were witnessing a co-headline event.

Having not seen Cheap Trick since 2007 (When they performed in PEI with Aerosmith, 54-40 and many others in the rain.), I had been looking forward to my next experience for quite some time, and they delivered!

Being in the crowd at a Cheap Trick, you may imagine yourself in a 70s club listening to “good solid rock “.

Bassist Tom Petersson(who celebrated his birthday the day before), along with  guitarist Rick Neilson and vocalist Robin Zander took the stage with their sons Daxx and Robin on drums and guitars respectively, launching into a cover of The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour”, before going into a mix of newer songs and deep cuts.

Near the end of the set, the band went into a string of their biggest hits including ” I Want You to Want Me”, and  “Dream Police”. Before launching into the loudest sing along of the night with “Surrender”, a new song “Final Days” was debuted.

With the crowd on its feet following a complete set of rock, it was time to grab a drink in the limited time we had on break.

ZZ Top

At precisely 8:45pm, the Texas Blues / Rock legends ZZ Top took the stage, with Singer / Guitarist Billy F. Gibbons, bassist Elwood Francis and drummer Frank Beard (who has grown a beard in recent years) launching into “Got Me Under Pressure” and taking us through their mix of hits including “Gimmie All Your Lovin’, “I’m Bad I’m Nationwide”, “My Heads in Mississippi” , “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”.

ZZ Top

BFG / Halifax: Photo: Chandrae Bailey / A\CR

With all the hits in the catalog, there needs to be some new songs, early rarities and covers on the bill. The smash hit single “I Gotsa Get Paid” from the 2012 “La Futura” record, which brought the group to Casino NB in 2013 in what was an instant sellout.

While not a country act, lead vocalist Billy Gibbons wanted to show that the band could indeed rock a tune, with Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons” being a highlight sing along. The encore also included “Brown Sugar” from” ZZ Top’s First Album” and a grand finale of on of the most “blues-y” tracks ever written “La Grange”, closing the set. You could hear “A-haw, haw, haw, haw” through the rafters of the Scotiabank Centre.

It’s safe to say that ZZ Top is and always will be one of the most remembered classic rock acts. Despite Dusty Hill’s sudden passing last summer, the band vowed to keep on rocking with Elwood on bass as per Hill’s wishes. It’s safe to say Elwood Francis doesn’t just “fill in”, he carries on the legacy of the “little ol’ band from Texas” that is ZZ Top, and will for years to come.

Elwood Francis and Frank Beard / Halifax. Photo: Chandrae Bailey / ACR

To learn some fun facts about Elwood Francis, check out this video.

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