Live: ZZ Top and Thunder

It’s Texas time again...

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Thunder begin by trying too hard – opening with their usual set closer, Dirty Love, too much cheerleading from frontman Danny Bowes – but halfway through their eight-song set, they belatedly hit their stride.

With Backstreet Symphony, an immense Love Walked In and the towering Telecaster-powered The Thing I Want, it all just clicks.

ZZ Top, habitually, take the opposite approach: abstract minimalism. Sonically, there’s a bit of smoke and mirrors (most noticeable on the four from Eliminator) but each of the main set’s 14 slices of shuffle/blues/boogie prove that all you really need is “same three guys, same three chords”.

True, a 65-minute set borders on the stingy, but feel the quality, and admire the devil in the detail. The lack of any live screen projections forces Wembley to focus on what four decades’ experience means – a hand gesture here, subtle choreography everywhere and Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill’s curious magic-dust sprinkling finger-tip ‘handshake’ whenever they congratulate themselves on just how good they actually are.

Anyone feeling short-changed when the band leave the stage clutching the white-fur guitars used only for Legs are soon handsomely rewarded by the encore, with birthday boy Jeff Beck (71 today, completing the quartet of the planet’s four most ageless rock stars) slinging his two-penneth into Rough Boy, a swaggering Sixteen Tons then regulars La Grange and Tush.

Sometimes, less really is more.

Neil Jeffries

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush, Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.