TORONTO - ZZ Top has Legs - both the famous song and staying power.
Almost 40 years after forming in Houston, Texas, the fun-loving hard rock-blues trio are still going strong given their impressive performance on Sunday night at the Molson Amphitheatre with fellow party hearty act and country duo Brooks & Dunn as openers.
Despite no new album to tour - their last studio record was 2004's Mescalero and they're said to be in the studio with producer Rick Rubin who has most recently done wonders in terms of reviving Neil Diamond's recording career - the "tres hombres" still delivered the classic ZZ Top hits over the course of a tight-sounding hour and 20 minute set.
With their trademark long scraggly beards, black sunglasses, aviator goggles and black baseball hats backwards on their heads, black riding suits and black boots, frontman-guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill looked like they just stepped off their Harleys before coming on stage.
"This is the place to be - right here, right now," a throaty-sounding Gibbons, wearing his trademark tea-cozy cap underneath his baseball hat, intoned after they had quickly dispatched such crowd favourites as Got Me Under Pressure, Gimme All Your Lovin', Waiting For The Bus and Jesus Just Left Chicago.
Playing on a stripped down stage, the trio - rounded out by the mustached and mulleted Frank Beard behind drums decorated with human skulls - the band got down to business fast with a no-nonsense performance that frequently featured Gibbons and Hill playing and moving in synchronized movements, often to the front of their small catwalk.
Anytime they moved closer to the audience, cameras were whipped out and the excited throngs rushed the stage.
Gibbons, who's definitely sounded in better voice in the past, made up for any vocal weakness with phenomenal guitar work, particularly on Gimme All Your Lovin', Waiting For The Bus, I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide, Cheap Sunglasses, and even used just one hand for I Need You Tonight pointing at his guitar neck with the other free hand.
But the set highlights proved to be such old standbys as Just Got Paid, Sharp Dressed Man, Legs - played by Gibbons and Hill on their customary furry white guitar and bass, respectively - La Grange and Tush.
By the end of the night, Brooks & Dunn returned to join ZZ Top for their last two numbers, the provocatively named Tube Snake Boogie and a cover of Jailhouse Rock, but by then their on-stage collaboration paled in comparison to what had preceded it.
Brooks & Dunn, who are touring in support of their 2007 album, Cowboy Town, certainly know how to entertain with a fast-paced, high-energy show that never really flagged over the course of an hour and five minutes and included a confetti-filled ending and a cute girl plucked out of the stage to dance.
With the backing of a great-sounding ten-piece band, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn seem to have gotten the slick new country thing down pat even if their likeable material was never more than just that.
Exceptions proved to be the high-spirited cover track from Cowboy Town, Red Dirt Road and their cover of Maria (previously a hit for B.W. Stevenson in 1973 as My Maria).
SUN RATING: 4 out of 5