Aftermath: ZZ Top and Aerosmith at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
|Photos by Mark C. Austin|
All these years later, in the middle of what is politely still being called a recession, about 20,000 people plunked down money that otherwise might have gone towards rent or savings or college for tickets, parking, yard margaritas and "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" T-shirts. Many on hand no doubt already saw ZZ at the rodeo in March and/or helped Aerosmith set the all-time Pavilion attendance record back in 2003, proof enough how well the the groups have succeeded.
Enjoying home-field advantage Friday - but playing outdoors during daylight hours and opening for someone, period, in Texas for the first time in God only knows how long - ZZ Top didn't make a big deal out of it either way.
Obviously glad to be presiding over "bluestime in Houston, Texas," Billy Gibbons reminded everyone he was a reverend by laying down the rules of "Number 1, no drinking during the gospel songs" and "Number 2, no gospel songs," and told an amusing anecdote about why he had on one red and one black Converse, but other than that the trio was reliably businesslike about enjoyin' gettin' it on.
How was it? How do you think it was? All Aftermath will say is if you ever get the chance to witness a pink-violet Texas sunset while ZZ Top how-how-how-hows "La Grange" from 25 to 100 yards away again... we recommend you take it, dumbass.
Whereas Gibbons and Dusty Hill onstage are the (literally) walking embodiment of Texas cool, never in much of a hurry to get anywhere, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler seems like he was born with a wind machine in his face. He can be more Tin Pan Alley/ragtime soft-shoe showman than rock and roller, scatting like Cab Calloway on "Rag Doll" and invoking Mae West ("sometimes I'm good but when I'm bad I'm better") in "Falling in Love (Is So Hard on the Knees)."
"We couldn't play on a bill with ZZ and not send out a little blues your way," said Joe Perry before a stout "Stop Messin' Round" that was pure sweet home Chicago. Perry's fab fretwork - which, on "Saddle," "Combination" and OMG closer "Walk This Way," made it pretty obvious he taught Slash everything he needed to know - dominated the second half of the set as Tyler either took a breather, toned it down a notch (if you can believe that) or blew some tasty harp on "Messin'."
And it's why Aerosmith and ZZ Top still do it, too. Friday, the train kept a rollin' all night long, and it'll be rollin' for a long, long time to come.