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ZZ Top // Live @The Louisville Palace Theater // 4.8.2023

Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright


Louisville KY– ZZ Top brought their iconic Texas blues-rock repertoire to a small but heroically dedicated audience at the Louisville Palace Theater. This was the second date on this piece of their “Raw Whiskey” tour and the first time the band has played in Louisville since the unexpected and sudden passing of founder and bass player Dusty Hill. The bittersweet truth? The last show that Hill ever performed with the band was at Louisville’s Iroquois Amphitheater on July 18th, 2021. He died in his sleep nine days later.

Founding members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard (ironically the only one without facial hair) were joined by Elwood Francis on bass, the band’s longtime guitar tech. Hill, as his health declined, had given his heartfelt approval to Francis who knew the discography cold after some twenty years at his side.

The set list hit the band’s highest notes, one after another showcasing their incredible history and ability to hold on to an audience. “Under Pressure” kicked things off, setting the tone for the night with its driving rhythm and hefty scaling bass.

“Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” and “Legs,” all had the crowd singing and dancing along. The band paid tribute to American tradition with their rendition of Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons.” They delivered an unusual treat in their first encore with “Brown Sugar,” from their first album. The evening ended on its highest possible note with, “La Grange,” the song that first drew world-wide acclaim to the band.

Most of the audience recognized the poignant moment when the band played “Just Got Paid,” one of Hill’s earliest signature songs. The nod to history drew cheers and applause, honoring Hill’s memory and the band’s enduring legacy.

ZZ Top has graced a Louisville stage numerous times over the years, including memorable shows at the Louisville Gardens in 1981 and Freedom Hall in 1986, and more recently, headlining day three of the 2019 Bourbon and Beyond Festival.

You can keep up with ZZ Top’s travels, concert dates, including an upcoming co-headlining series with Lynyrd Skynyrd beginning July 21st, at https//
Michael W. Bright
Michael W. Bright enjoyed a 30 year career in rock radio, both on the air and most notably as Program Director of seminal Alternative Rock icon WFNX in Boston. His first concert experience was Jefferson Airplane in 1967 and he hasn't gotten live music out of his system yet. He currently lives on a small farm in pastoral Pewee Valley, outside of Louisville, Kentucky with his huge family.