The Raw Whisky Tour, which ZZ Top has been performing on since April and will continue through December, stopped at the Luhrs Performing Arts Center on October 7 as part of its itinerary.
They put on an amazing show, with vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons, who is 72 years old, delivering a performance that was incredibly strong and full of energy. He was joined by longtime drummer Frank Beard and vocalist/bassist Elwood Francis, who took over the role the previous year after longtime bassist Dusty Hill passed away. Both Beard and Francis had been with the band for many years. Over the course of more than three decades, Francis served as the band’s guitar tech. Even down to the big beard he sported himself, he was the ideal candidate.
The Sedonas, a southern rock band hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, provided the opening set for the concert. The majority of the concert consisted of unpublished material, the most of which is expected to be included on their upcoming album “The ’79 Session,” which will be released in December. They performed for roughly half an hour and had a strong showing, especially taking into account that it was their first time serving as the opening act for ZZ Top.
ZZ Top approached the stage at around 8:30 and began their show with a bang by opening with “Got Me Under Pressure.” They made sure to get the fans energised as soon as possible by starting their performance with this song. They continued to tear through their classics, including “Gimme All Your Lovin,” “Pearl Necklace,” and “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” among others.
Following the conclusion of this segment, Gibbons addressed the audience about how ZZ Top has been on the road for the past half a century, and then he took a sign from a young supporter sitting in the front row. He went down the list, which included “First Concert,” “First Row,” and “First time witnessing ZZ Top,” which he read from the sign. This resulted in a rousing round of applause from the audience, and it was also a touching moment for everyone involved because Gibbons gave the fan and their brother a pair of guitar picks that he had used in performances in the past.
They then continued with the rest of their set, which included a cover of “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Travis, which brought a touch of blues to the performance. They concluded their first set with a fantastic performance of “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs,” switching their guitars out for fuzzier, all-white guitars for the last song in between the two songs. They then returned to the stage around five minutes later to perform an encore consisting of three songs, the first two of which were “Brown Sugar” and “Tube Snake Boogie,” while the last song was “La Grange.”
ZZ Top totally obliterated the competition during their show in Shippensburg. They had been performing the exact same setlist during their entire tour, so it was evident that they were confident in their flow. They managed to keep the crowd engaged for the entirety of their 16-song performance and even threw in a few unexpected elements, such as the guitar pick handouts and the guitar swaps. It is quite remarkable to witness three artists in their 70s put on such a tremendous performance as they did, and they made certain to assure the audience that they have no intention of retiring in the foreseeable future.