Live review: ZZ Top: Still in top form

If you weren’t a music fan back in the 80s (or maybe you weren’t even alive yet), you may not know that for a short period of time, the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top absolutely dominated the world of popular music. When their 1983 album Eliminator hit the airwaves and MTV played their slick video for “Sharp Dressed Man,” ZZ Top became international superstars. They embarked on a never-ending arena tour, selling out multiple nights in most cities. I (along with my friend Bob) personally camped-out in a line outside of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena for over 24 hours…in January…in roughly 10 degree weather no less, just for the opportunity to get tickets to see ZZ Top. It was the hottest ticket for the hottest show in the country. Now let’s fast forward to last week’s concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Atlanta. A lot has changed since then, but it’s still the same three guys, they still have their fuzzy beards and guitars, and while MTV might not play their videos anymore, they still sound every bit as good as they did back in the 80s.

After a short video intro, guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard casually strolled on stage and launched into “Got Me Under Pressure,” from Eliminator. Modestly dressed in matching black suits, top hats and weathered instruments, Billy & Dusty exuded that “casual cool” that they have always had, punctuating that “cool” with their subtle, synchronized stage moves.

ZZ Top, Live at The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia

Dusty Hill & Billy Gibbons

ZZ Top is a band that was built on the blues, and the setlist reflected that fact. The one-two punch of “Waitin’ For The Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Catfish Blues)” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” showcased the band’s blues roots, while “My Head’s In Mississippi” was their more modernized take on the genre. Billy Gibbons may not be running around the stage like he did in their hey-day, but his fingers sure do work just fine. He effortlessly attacked each solo, accenting each with his trademark hum-bucking tone and screeching harmonics.

ZZ Top, Live at The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia

Billy Gibbons, hittin’ the note

Long time concert favorites “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” both from 1979’s Deguello and “I Gotsta Get Paid” from La Futura filled out their set before the fuzzy guitars came out for the danceable “Legs.”

Tour mate Jeff Beck joined ZZ Top on stage for an extended version of “Rough Boy,” sharing the song’s two solos with Billy Gibbons. I could go on forever about Jeff Beck and his guitar mastery/wizardry/tone, and I would have loved to have seen the two acts share more stage time together, but unfortunately “Rough Boy” and “16 Tons” were all that were given. A little disappointing in retrospect.

ZZ Top, Live at The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia

Frank Beard

ZZ Top ended the night with a two-song encore of “La Grange” and “Tush.” As I left the amphitheater I couldn’t help but think that this would probably be my last opportunity to see them play live, and if it was, I knew that they were every bit as good as they were back in the 80s. ZZ Top remains one of the greatest and most influential American rock bands ever.

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Concert Review of Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on April 27, 2014

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

 

Story by Jemille Williams Photos by Chuck Holloway

Sweet Home Alpharetta

 

After a picture perfect day Sunday, the bottom fell out a couple of hours before showtime at Verizon Amphithetre and made prospects dim for a comfortable evening for Alabama‘s All American Tour. There were still a good many empty seats when Will Hoge took the stage, but the sky stayed clear and everyone enjoyed a beautiful spring evening. It was cool enough not to need the huge overhead fans.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Hoge is typical of so many artists who have a great sound, but just somehow have missed that big break that propels them to the big time. With any luck, his exposure to legions of Alabama fans will give him the bump he needs. His group served up a heapin’ helpin’ of Southern-fried rock ‘n’ roll sounding a good bit like Tom Petty with top notes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially on Craig Pair’s piano work in “Suitcase Full of Empty Dreams” and the Oak Ridge Boys, when they sang an almost a cappella “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

The band definitely had a good beat that you could two-step to it. The audience grew more respectful and less chatty as the show wore on, as they were clapping along on the last couple of songs. The enthusiastic drummer Ron Killen, was similar to Coldplay’s Will Champion in both technique and appearance. Jessie Isley’s bluesy guitar work was reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan on the moving “When I Get My Wings.” Of special note was the rousing cheer when he introduced bass guitarist from Snellville.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama Superstars Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook took the stage to a roar from the crowd. Owne had the faithful well in hand, at times getting them to wave their hands in the air like they just didn’t care and occasionally inciting couples to slow dance in the roomy rows at Verizon.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama opened with a spirited “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (Ya Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” with Cook sawing away on a neon green instrument that looked more Stratocaster than Stradivarius. On many songs they fielded six guitars!

TAM-Alabama-HollowayALA00046

Alabama made mention of their latest album, Alabama & Friends, released last year and even took a tweet request of “Old Flame,” and dedicated a song to a couple, who like the group itself, was celebrating a 40th anniversary.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama gave no less than four encores, rounding out their two-hour performance, which was full of their greatest hits. After a moving rendition of “Angels Among Us” Owen ended the show shouting “Peace and Love!”

 

Full Photo Gallery of Alabama

 

Southern Rock Revival with Lynyrd Skynyrd at VZW Amphitheatre on Oct 18

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

 

Live Review and Photos by Danielle Boise

 

“Thank you for keeping Skynyrd alive all this time.” – Johnny Van Zant

 

 

The Southern Rock Revival rolled into Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Friday, Oct. 18, where Molly Hatchet and The Marshall Tucker Band opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Atlanta stop for a night of classic, southern rock.

 

“Come on hell raisers, put your hands together. I want to see you put your stank on it.” – Phil McCormack

 

With great showmanship, Molly Hatchet started the night off right as they played their hits, which included “Fall of the Peacemakers” and “Flirtin’ With Disaster.”

 

“Music is supposed to be emotional.” – Doug Gray

 

The Marshall Tucker Band was up next and charmed the venue as they performed “Fire on the Mountain,” but it was truly a profound moment when they performed a cover of Shaky Graves’ “Georgia Moon” with such intensity, only made more evanescent by the full moon’s rise across the horizon.

 

“There is no crowd like a Georgia crowd.” – Johnny Van Zant

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage by storm in a very patriotic way, as they performed a 15-song set list, which included “Last of a Dyin’ Breed,” a JJ Cale cover of “Call Me the Breeze,” “What’s Your Name,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” “Down South Jukin’,” “That Smell,” “You Got That Right,” “Saturday Night Special,” “I Know a Little,” “Simple Man,” “Mississippi Kid,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps” and ended the regular set with “Sweet Home Alabama.” Of course it would not be a Lynyrd Skynyrd show without ending the night on “Free Bird.”

 

“We live in the greatest country in the world. I believe that down to the bottom of my heart.” Johnny Van Zant

 

Full Photo Gallery of Molly Hatchet

 

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fun. at VWZ Amphitheatre on October 8

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

 

Live Review and Photos by Danielle Boise

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

“We’ve had the best here tonight.” – Nate Ruess

 

Rosco Bandana

Rosco Bandana

 

Rosco Bandana and Hunter Hunted opened for the Grammy winners fun., at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Tuesday, Oct. 8 for a night colorfully exuberant music. With an indie rock viability right out of the Gulf, Rosco Bandana started the night off with a bit of a bite mixed with Southern charm as it performed songs off Time To Begin. Hunter Hunted took to the stage next and got the crowd excited with their catchy pop hooks and intricate harmonies as they played songs off their debut EP with gusto.

 

Hunter Hunted

Hunter Hunted

 

“We want fun. We want fun. We want fun,” chanted on repeat, as the crowd anxiously waited for Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff to make an appearance. And what an appearance they made, as the boys of fun. stepped onto the VZW Amphitheatre staged dressed to the nines in tuxedos to perform “Some Nights (intro)” acapella-style illuminated in a set of stoplights. After which the lights dimmed, only to shatter in a sea of light as fun. dress more casually exploded with bounds of energy across the stage and made it their own as they performed  “One Foot,” “Walking the Dog,” “All Alone,” “Why am I the One,” “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be),” “All the Pretty Girls,” “It Gets Better” and “Barlights.”

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

“Carry On” became an epic experience, with a nonstop explosion of being continuously covered in cotton candy colored confetti.

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

Before going into “The Gambler,” Ruess talked to the audience about what it meant to the band to be where they are at. “The only job we have it you guys. We’re the most boring group of guys (off stage). What makes us bad asses is you guys. We’ve had the best fucking time here tonight because of you guys. Thank you.”

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

“Here tonight, this is our last headlining show this year … for this tour … for this album.” – Nate Ruess

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

fun. wrapped up their regular set with “We are Young” and ended with The Rolling Stones cover of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” For the encore, fun. performed “Some Nights” and ended the evening with “Stars.”

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

“I fucking love you guys. Oh Atlanta, we got a few more shows later, but nothing like this. This is something we never thought would happen. It’s all because of you guys that this is a reality.” – Nate Ruess

 

Fun.

Fun.

 

Nothing beats seeing a sea of fans matching in time to the band on stage, so caught up in the swell of emotions that the music elicits. You can walk into a venue alone, but walk out with a thousand friends, and this is what the experience was like at a fun. show. By being part of something bigger than one’s self, by being part of a collective occurrence.

 

 

Full Photo Gallery of Rosco Bandana

 

Full Photo Gallery of Hunter Hunted

 

 

Full Photo Gallery of Fun.

 

 

Review: Fall Out Boy at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, GA

Review and photos by Ken Lackner

 

Fall Out Boy returned to Georgia to once again perform to a sold-out crowd on the Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour. While the first Save Rock and Roll Tour announced when the band came off of hiatus this spring took place at smaller venues, fans got to see the band this time at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Ga. Touring in support of  Fall Out Boy were Panic! at the Disco and Twenty One Pilots.

 

The job of an opening act is to warm up the crowd, and Twenty One Pilots certainly didn’t fail to deliver in that regard. The duo from Columbus, Ohio, was full of energy, with lead  singer Tyler Joseph jumping off his  upright piano at one point. The crowd was no doubt excited  for Fall Out Boy  to take the stage, but first Panic! at the Disco performed. Panic! performed a mix of favorite from their three studio albums, as well as the two singles  so far released from their upcoming fourth album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, set for release on Oct. 8.

 

After powerful performances from both opening acts, fans were ready for Fall Out Boy. The band took the stage in black masks and opened with “The Phoenix,” the opening track on their latest album, Save Rock and Roll.  The set lasted nearly two hours. After being joined on stage by the lead singer of Panic! at the Disco, Brendon  Urie,  for “20 Dollar Nose Bleed,” lead singer Patrick Stump, guitarist Joe Trohman, and bassist Pete Wentz left the main stage to perform a two-song acoustic set at the venue’s sound board. Following this was a drum solo by Andy Hurley while the rest of the band made their way back to the stage. After closing the set with “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘em Up),” Fall Out Boy came back to the stage for a three-song encore. Elton John appears as guest vocalist on Save Rock and Roll’s title track. Though he wasn’t present on the tour, Stump performed vocals and played piano, and it was tough to discern the difference. The show closed with “Thnks fr the Mmrs” and “Saturday.”

 

Fall Out Boy are back. They’re here to Save Rock and Roll.  And hopefully they’re here to stay.

Fall Out Boy

Panic! at the Disco

Twenty One Pilots

Photos of The Allman Brothers Band and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals Sept 2

The Allman Brothers

The Allman Brothers Band

 

 

Photos by Michael Bradley

 

Images from The Allman Brothers Bands September 2, 2013 concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, Georgia. The band performed many of their classics like “Statesboro Blues,” “Midnight Rider” and “Blue Sky.” Opening the show was band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

 

Full Photo Gallery of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

 

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnal

 

Full Photo Gallery of The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

The Killers in Atlanta August 15

The Killers

Review by Jenna Hughes

“I don’t know what to call you guys,” Brandon Flowers addressed the crowd with a big grin. “Alpharetta? Atlanta?”

The latter brought on wild cheering from the audience at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Aug. 15 as fans eagerly waited to hear their favorite songs by The Killers. The band, natives of Las Vegas, haven’t played a show in Atlanta since 2009 and it was clear that their fans missed them.

The Killers took the crowd by surprise, leading off with “Mr. Brightside” while the house lights stayed on. Flowers’ energy was infectious, and it seemed like nearly everyone was dancing and absolutely no one was sitting down. After the performance, the lights finally went down and the applause was deafening.

The set continued with a great mix of the band’s material, from “Spaceman” from the 2006 album Day & Age to “Smile Like You Mean It” from 2004’s Hot Fuss. “The Way It Was,” a track from the latest album, 2012’s Battle Born, was very well received by the audience. The band was creative in their use of lighting and effects, with hypnotic blue lasers during “Shadowplay” that kept the band in the shadows while the crowd was bathed in light, to pyrotechnics during “Miss Atomic Bomb” that exploded when the beat dropped.

The crowd went wild for the hits “Somebody Told Me” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” after which an explosion of confetti drenched the audience and the band left the stage. They returned with opening act The Virgins to perform a cover of the Neil Young song “Albuquerque,” “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “Battle Born.”

Flowers then introduced each member of the band and jumped down into the pit to high five fans and shake their hands. But the fans just weren’t ready to go home yet. When Flowers returned to the stage he flashed that big grin again and said, “You want more? What more could we possibly have to offer you?”

The band then launched into the mega-hit “When You Were Young” from 2007’s Sam’s Town. It was the perfect ending to a great night of music from a band that has only gotten better with time.

Set List:

“Mr. Brightside,” “Spaceman,” “The Way It Was,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Human (Piano Interlude),” “Bling (Confession of a King),” “Shadowplay (Joy Division cover),” “Miss Atomic Bomb,” “Human,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Be Still,” “For Reasons Unknown,” “From Here On Out,” “A Dustland Fairytale,” “Read My Mind,” “Runaways,” “All These Things That I’ve Done”

Encore:

“Albuquerque (Neil Young cover performed with The Virgins.),” “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” “Battle Born,” ‘When You Were Young”

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 Hit Alpharetta

Live Review and Photos by Danielle Boise

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Barenaked Ladies

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Barenaked Ladies

If you arrived early on Friday July 26 to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta for the Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 with Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Guster and Boothby Graffoe, then you were in for a surprise and delight. As the foremost Barenaked Ladies cover band, otherwise known as Barenaked Ladies themselves, took to the Eco-Village tent and performed an acoustic set for thrilled and bewildered fans as they joked and laughed with the early concert-goers as they poured into the venue.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Boothby Graffoe

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Boothby Graffoe

Boothby Graffoe took the main stage in a jovial manner, being part comedian, part folk-esqe singer and entertained the crowd with a bevy of songs that in-cited laughter and commodore. For more information on Boothby Graffoe, visit Boothby Graffoe’s Website.

“We love you guys.” – Ryan Miller

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Guster

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Guster

Guster took the stage next with delight and glee as they performed songs like “Do You Love Me?,” “Ramona,” “Satellite,” “Barrel of a Gun” and ended on “This Could All Be Yours Someday.” It’s always gratifying to watch Guster perform with such love for the audience and in such a laid back manner, it’s hard not to leave one of their shows and not feel utterly relaxed. For more information on Guster, visit www.guster.com.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Ben Folds Five

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Ben Folds Five

It was a pleasure to see the alt-rockers, Ben Folds Five back together perform both new and older material with angst-ridden lyrics meshed together with a mixture of upbeat tempos and beautiful piano melodies as they started their set off with “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later” then continued on with “Philosophy,” “Alice Childress,” “Erase Me,” “Sky High,” “Brick,” “Draw A Crowd,” “Landed,” “Song for the Dumped,” “Army,” “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” and ended on “Rock This Bitch” with Robert Sledge’s son dancing and doing karate kicks to the side of the stage. For more information on Ben Folds Five, visit www.benfoldsfive.com.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Ben Folds Five

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Ben Folds Five

In between Ben Folds Five leaving the main stage and Barenaked Ladies taking the stage, with a storyteller’s vibe Guster performed an acoustic set at the Eco-Village tent out front by the gate doors. Fans were able to get within touching distance as Guster belted out more songs to delighted on-lookers.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Barenaked Ladies

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Barenaked Ladies

The corky Canadian rockers, Barenaked Ladies came onto the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre stage full of enigmatic energy and smiles as they took the arena and made it their own for their 14 song set. Barenaked Ladies rambunctiously were out in fun and support of their 11th studio album, Grinning Streak, which came out June 4th off of Vanguard Records.

They kicked off their set with a couple of new songs off Grinning Streak, “Limits” and “Did I Say That Out Loud?” before going into classics like “Pinch Me,” “Gonna Walk,” “If I Had $1,000,000,” “Barenaked Rap” (which was a mash-up of “Thrift Store,” “Trouble,” “Scream & Shout,” “Get Lucky,” “Titanium” and “Blinded by the Light), “Old Apartment,” “Odds Are” and “Be My Yoko Ono.”

Before jumping right into the “Big Bang Theory Theme” Robertson brought up the Steven Hawkin Comic Con video that was released earlier in the week, where Hawkin “sings” the opening of to the CBS hit show of the same name, which brought joy and laughter from the crowd at seeing the video light up on the big screen.

Barenaked Ladies wrapped up their regular set with their smash hit, “One Week” and ended on “Limits” before they returned to the stage for a two song encore, with “Alcohol” and ending on a the Violent Femmes’ cover “Blister in the Sun.”

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Barenaked Ladies

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Barenaked Ladies

After 25 years of playing together, Barenaked Ladies are still making music together that is light-hearted, fun and has a bit of magic that reaches out to the audience and transports them to this happy, relaxed place. They play together as one cohesive unit that knows each other as if they were truly one person divided in four.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 - Barenaked Ladies

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 – Barenaked Ladies

If you get a chance, go out and enjoy the Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 with Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Guster and Boothby Graffoe. The tour runs through September 14, ending in Edmonton. It makes for a relaxing evening that will bring you back to your youth with music that makes you happy to just be there by putting a smile on your face. For more information on The Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013 and Barenaked Ladies, visit www.barenakedladies.com.

 

 

 

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