A night with ZZ Top and Guns N’ Roses

Despite being a music fan, I’ve only ever been to a few concerts: David Lee Roth, Aerosmith, Jimmy Barnes, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen, Garbage (along with Alanis Morrisette) and a few others. I’ve been to plenty of gigs at pubs and whatnot. Back in my Uni days I’d follow Chain around from pub to pub, and occasionally catch Dave Hole and other shows at smaller venues. Of all the bands that I’d been a fan of and had an influence on me, I’d pretty much seen them all.

There has always been two glaring omissions from this list. I have been a ZZ Top fan since before I can remember… early high school is where I started my appreciation for blues and I always considered ZZ Top, and in particular Billy Gibbons, to be the finest blues musician to ever pluck the guitar strings. This was way before 1984s Eliminator and 1986s Afterburner. Wailing blues just reached out and grabbed a hold of me in ways that were hard to explain.

I started Uni in 1988, and was exposed to more people and their musical tastes than during my time at high school. I was introduced to Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. It was released six months prior, but for some reason I’d never heard it. There are twelve songs on this album, and from the intimidating, aggressive opening of “Welcome to the Jungle” to the close of the last song “Rocket Queen”, every song is powerful strong, and all merge together into a perfect album. Indeed, to this day it is the highest selling debut album in history and my introduction to Punk Metal, and I was hooked. No piece of media had grabbed my attention like this since the movie Blade Runner.

Anyhow, despite hemming and hawing and coming close a couple times and finding excuses such as unjustifiably high concert ticket prices I never actually saw either of these bands live. So it was with great surprise that Suzanne booked us two tickets for a double bill featuring both bands at the new Perth Arena!

Rose Tattoo were the openers. I have seen these guys a couple times at different places, but they were never my cup of tea. I recognised various songs, but I wasn’t there to see them and while they were enjoyable, I was getting restless to see my good friends Billy, Dusty and Frank.

They opened with “I Thank You” from their 1979 album Deguello, and while they didn’t go all the way back to ZZ Top’s First Album, there were plenty of songs from the early 70′s, through the 80′s, 90′s, 2000′s all the way up to a rockin’ “Gotsta Get Paid” from last year. Their repertoire covers five decades. They’ve played and stayed together for more than forty years! There aren’t many bands who can claim the same. Their concert was silky smooth, and almost effortless. It’s simply amazing how two guitars and a drum kit can sound so “full”, feeding the dynamic range from high to low frequencies. Billy Gibbons is simply amazing.

Compare this to Guns ‘N Roses, who have up to five guitars at a time on stage, plus keyboards and two sets of drums. I’m not saying one sounds better than the other, mind. It’s just mind blowing how Gibbons can seemingly play rhythm and melody at the same time, leaving bass to Hill.

Also, Axl Rose is the only current member from the original band. Not that having a revolving door it’s a bad thing either way, because it’s mostly about the music.

Guns N’ Roses played the best songs from Appetite for Destruction, Lies, Use Your Illusion I & 2 as well as the new songs from Chinese Democracy, which I’ll admit I didn’t recognise as I don’t have that album on my iPod. The show was great! Very enjoyable and memorable. Axl suffered from some poor reviews in the newspaper saying that he struggled with his range in some songs, but from where I was sitting he didn’t put a foot wrong.

In all, it was a great night, albeit a very tiring one as I’d only got off the plane from Singapore early that morning.

Now I have only two more concerts I ever want to go see: Oasis and Jamiroquai. If we ever find these two touring Australia on a double bill, you can bet we’ll be getting tickets.