Niagara Gazette — The 2013 Tuesday in the Park series closes out this week with the return of ZZ Top for a completely sold-out performance. The band is the fourth Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee that has appeared in the series in the last three weeks. ZZ Top entered in 2004.
The last time they performed at Artpark was Aug. 2, 2011, to a packed house. The show’s attendance was comparable to the mass of people that attended the Lynyrd Skynyrd show that same season.
It will be a fitting ending to what has been the best Tuesday in the Park series to date, which included shows from classic rockers, country artists, progressive rockers and even R&B legends. As a testament to the drawing power of the lineup, more than half the shows sold out, including four in a row early in the season.
Since ZZ Top’s last show at Artpark in 2011, they have released a new album entitled “La Futura,” which features the single “I Gotsta Get Paid,” which the band has been performing live on this leg of their tour. Rick Rubin, whose long beard made him the perfect choice to work with ZZ Top, produced the album.
They are known as “The Little ‘Ol Band from Texas,” but their sound and stage shows are as big as the state of Texas. Two of the three members sport long beards, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, it is their drummer Frank Beard, who does not, which is ironic considering his last name.
The band established themselves with their third album, the Gold certified “Tres Hombres” in 1973. The album contained the ZZ Top classics “La Grange” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” By the end of the 1970s the band had three Gold and one Platinum selling album, and Gibbons and Hill grew their trademark long beards.
In the 1980s ZZ Top reinvented their sound from a raw blues three-piece band to a band that incorporated synthesizers, which was trendy in the 1980s. The result was the band’s greatest selling album, 1983’s “Eliminator” an album that spawned a series of popular songs and MTV videos, making the band iconic figures. It sold 10 million units.
The MTV videos featured an Eliminator Coupe, ZZ Top key ring and sheepskin covered guitars that spun around.
ZZ Top rode the wave of success until the mid-1990s, releasing four multi-platinum albums. They returned to their three-chord boogie blues sound with “Rhythmeen,” released in 1996. Since then the band has released three albums, “XXX”, “Mescalero” and the aforementioned “La Futura.”
Of late, the band’s set lists have been dominated by songs from “Eliminator” including “Gimme All Your Lovin,’ “ “Got Me Under Pressure,” “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”
In addition to ZZ Top, this week’s show has a great opening act, The Sheepdogs. The group won Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Choose the Cover” competition in 2011, and has appeared in the area at least twice in the last two years, once as the opener for Gov’t Mule in Lockport and another time they headlined The Rapid’s Theatre in Niagara Falls. They are well worth getting to the venue early to see.
Tickets are sold-out, so plan on arriving early to beat the traffic.Thom Jennings covers Artpark for the Gazette.