When it comes to rock legends, there are no bigger – or beardier – than ZZ Top. Forming a whopping 47 years ago, the Texan trio are so relaxed about playing to tens of thousands of people on the Pyramid Stage that they’re practically horizontal. Here are the five reasons why their Friday afternoon set proved their status as guitar heroes.
ZZ Top love a bit of bling. Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill and weighed down with so much jewellery it’s a wonder that they can actually play their guitars. They’ve hefty skull rings on their fingers, chunky silver bangles and necklaces upon necklaces dangling around their throats. And they look good. Sharp in fact. Making their thundering trip through 1983’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ all the more spot-on.
ZZ Top are not one of those bands you go to watch to let their brand new experimental direction wash over you. You got to ZZ Top to hear the hits, and the hits they provide. We get ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘La Grange’, the aforementioned ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, ‘Legs’, ‘Tush’ and a whole bunch of other songs containing thinly veiled references to women’s bottoms, as well as 1994’s ‘Pincushion’, which features the immortal lyric “I’m getting pricked around and punctureated/I let my ya ya down, I got penetrated”. Excellent stuff. They also cover Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ if you’re into that kind of thing, and the air-guitaring masses gathered here today very much are.
The Synchronised Guitar Playing
Billy Gibbons – he’s the one with the lighter shade of beard – and Dusty Hill’s synchronised guitar playing is a thing of beauty. They’ve spent almost half a century perfecting their slick onstage trick and it’s a simple but oh so effective way of making them look ultra cool.
Billy Gibbons’ Indistinguishable Banter
Born in Houston, Texas, Billy Gibbons is a proud Southern man, and you can hear it in every gruff gurgle of his voice. Half of the time his accent is so thick that it’s nigh on impossible to work out what he’s saying. “Time to drink a little whisskaayyyyy,” he roars before ‘Chartreuse’. Rest assured the rest of the time he’s probably talking about butts. Or booze. Or both. The moment he lights up not a cigarette, but an actual cigar during the finale of ‘Tush’, also warrants a mention.
The Bearded Keyboard
ZZ Top have beards. We all know this. Well, all aside from their drummer, who in one of the great ironies of rock is called Frank Beard. ZZ Top’s keyboard also has a beard. Wheeled out for a rollicking version of ‘La Grange’, Dusty’s keys are draped in the kind of fluff that high street stores sometimes like to pop in the window when it’s Christmas and pretend it’s snow. In ZZ Top’s case, the fluff is a beard. Of course it is.