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ZZ Top // Live @ Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion // 8.2.22

Article and photos by Wendy Podmenik Woodell

PORTSMOUTH, VA– In terms of truly iconic blues/ rock bands, ZZ Top is certainly at the top- with classic riffs, catchy lyrics, and pure musicianship enveloping a slew of hits that helped define the genre and the decades. On an nearly unrelenting hot and humid typical summer day in Virginia, the band made a tour stop in Portsmouth at the waterfront Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion.

Long time local favorites powerhouse blues band Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos opened for ZZ Top, as they had in previous years. A perfect fit for the evening, a piece of a puzzle that snaps cleanly in place. A healthy crowd arrived early to celebrate Anthony’s set. His roughly half hour set was crowned with his moving and introspective single, “The Chain”.

ZZ Top’s set started around 9:00 PM, with newest band member Elwood Francis on tap. Elwood was personally selected by the late bassist Dusty Hill to be his eventual replacement. The end of July marked the one year anniversary of Dusty’s passing, which made the timing of the show bittersweet, but the fans have embraced Elwood and Billy Gibbons has remarked in interviews that Elwood has lent a freshness to the band’s sound and show.

The audience immediately rose to their feet when ZZ Top stepped on the stage. Before beginning the show, each of the band members took pause to run a hand over a robotic appearing statue encased a glowing bottle that was placed to the side of the set. Clean, classic riffs were welcomed by all, and ZZ Top delivered. The set was decorated with “ZZ” patterns from the mic stands to the drum riser, and the two guitarists were clad in similar fashion and glittered with ample rhinestones from head to purple suede shoes. Of course, there were several guitar switches, and a set of the famous white furry guitars made an appearance. Drummer Frank Beard kept his head down and locked into the pocket, playing on his elaborate drum set decorated with golden baroque swirls and skulls.

Billy and Elwood toyed with each other on the stage, dancing and riffing off each other’s moves. Billy would playfully point his finger at the audience in his delicate signature gestures as he bantered with them between songs. The list of hits is nearly endless…from “Got Me Under Pressure” to “Gimme All Your Lovin’” to “Legs”. Billy reminisced with the audience that ZZ Top has been playing for over 50 years. Their latest project is album Raw, the soundtrack to the documentary That Little ol’ Band from Texas. July also saw the release of video for “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”.

At the one hour mark, the band exited for a quick breather/ water break and changed into red sparkling jackets. They played a three song encore, culminating with “La Grange” as machines on top of their stacks of Magnatone amps blew bubbles over all in a celebratory atmosphere. People laughed, cheered, cried, and enjoyed the party that is ZZ Top. Upcoming tour stops will feature Jeff Beck- see website for dates and locations.

Wendy Podmenik Woodell
Since entering the world of photography in 2013, WENDY PODMENIK has focused her interest on live music. Her ultimate goal is to successfully present the live music genre as an art form which preserves the expression, emotion, and energy of specific moments in time. ////// GLENN WOODELL spends his musical time working both on and around the stage. He's spent decades behind the lens as a visual artist, and for his career, studied human vision as a scientific researcher. His time on the stage these days is either spent holding on to a bass guitar or a camera.

3 thoughts on “ZZ Top // Live @ Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion // 8.2.22

  1. Amen❣️Rosano was awesome with his newer band members. And ZZ Top sounded as great as ever. RIP Dusty We know you were singing along ❤️

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