As main support, Rose Tattoo are still a menacing sight on stage, somewhat akin to a bikie gang about to hand out a brutal kneecapping to the unfortunate speed dealer who has crossed their path. Indeed they’d make most bikies look like benevolent nuns. Front man Angry Anderson prowls the stage, his trademark scream fuelled by water tonight as he reminds the audience that it’s just as bad as booze because ‘fish fuck in it’. Unfortunately Anderson uses the stage to push his Liberal Party stooge anti-carbon tax wheelbarrow as he introduces ‘Who’s Got The Gold?’. While he quite rightly tells the crowd to ‘question everything’, it seems that he is failing to do that himself with his strident views on the issue, and further reminds us of the fact that rock stars and politics rarely mix.
Luckily Anderson’s rants move on to reflect the stars from The Beatles to Jethro Tull that had walked the venue’s stage and tells younger members of the audience that they were most likely conceived to records by these bands. An incendiary ‘Rock N’ Roll Outlaw’ is followed by ‘We Can’t Be Beaten’ which sees fits in the crowd punching the air as they climax with ‘Bad Boy For Love’.
Opening with ‘Got Me Under Pressure’, ZZ Top are as entertaining as their film clips present them to be. Taking an opening break while drummer Frank Beard has a crafty smoke, they give props to Rose Tattoo and joke about growing dope in California, before then bringing up cheesy projections of 1980s Australian tourist postcards – almost as if they were left over from one of their tours 25 years ago. Demonstrating their Texas roots in the blues, the band launch in to a blues cover segment, which is heralded by the comic choreography scantily clad female ‘blues technicians’ presenting guitarist Billy Gibbons with a new ‘Blues Hat’. A cover of Willie Brown’s ‘Future Blues is followed by a ripping rendition of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’, with Gibbon’s unbridled guitar playing a joy to behold.
Another cover of Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ is remarkably faithful to the original recorded version, while their own ‘Party On The Patio’ owes a significant debt to Little Richard’s ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ is followed by ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ compete with a throwback video of themselves in the 1980s, which begs the question – did they adopt their look imply to beat the ageing process because they look almost identical thirty years later, while the main set conclusion of ‘Legs’ is just unadulterated pure dumb fun.
Returning for an encore of ‘La Grange’ resplendent in Rhinestone Cowboy jackets, which is followed by ‘Tush’, you get the impression that from the choreographed guitar moves to the stage banter and even the set list, nothing is spontaneous. Neither will a ZZ Top gig give you a sense of danger or unpredictability, let alone increase your IQ level. However, if you want a night of pure dumb boogie rock that no doubt left all of those in attendance still grinning the next day; to [mis]quote Rose Tattoo, ZZ Top can’t be beaten.
– Jim Murray