Houston Chronicle, TX
July 18, 2009
ZZ Top had the hometown advantage during Friday night’s down-n-dirty double bill at the Woodlands Pavilion.
The trio earned its usual hero’s welcome and showcased a bluesy, blustery set — similar to what fans saw during March’s RodeoHouston performance (and in previous years).
But the grimy, glammy rock of Aerosmith quickly took center stage, and — no disrespect — made the ZZ three seem like a simply serviceable opening act. All it took was a few minutes of Steven Tyler onstage — rock resplendent in silver sequins, floppy hat and trademark scarves.
The action unfurled on an intricately designed, immense stage that was all lasers and multiple tiers and staircases. Neon outlined everything, and a four-part screen served as a backdrop. Large pieces lifted into the air and came gently down throughout the almost two-hour set.
A lit runway jutted out into the crowd, taking a strutting Tyler midway into the seats. He would often stand at the end, surrounded by a sea of hands and cameras. Tyler’s voice was sometimes screechy but in good shape on tunes Walkin’ the Dog, Dream On, Rag Doll and Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees). And Janie’s Got a Gun was still a piercing rock-potboiler.
Guitarist Joe Perry got in some serious shredding during Love In An Elevator, Sweet Emotion and Livin’ on the Edge – hearty tunes that whipped the massive Woodlands crowd into a frenzy. (He was less successful behind the microphone on a pair of songs that found fans heading to the beer stands and bathrooms.)
Signature, searing songs Cryin’ and Walk This Way came late in the set and seemed perfect setups for what seemed the inevitable set closers. But, alas, Diane Warren power ballad I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing and — gasp! — Dude (Looks Like a Lady) never materialized. Guess they still like to keep us guessing.
ZZ Top — Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard — stuck to the script that’s anchored most of its RodeoHouston shows, albeit with a bit more flair (and room). Red curtains and a large screen backdrop accented the stage, though some of the effect was lost in pre-sunset hours.
The guys tore through Cheap Sunglasses and extended instrumentals before kicking into its MTV triple crown: Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs. The middle-aged folk danced along, played air guitars and swayed their hips (they know how to use them).
Photo Gallery: (here).