It is perhaps ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons that sums the Ben Miller Band up best.
The Missouri three piece apparently were handpicked by this evening’s star turn, but it’s not quite that straight forward. “When we saw them,” says Gibbons, “it is not so much a case of where have these guys been, but where have these guys come from!”
The bearded one has a point, because quite clearly the group are something a one off. There is a chap playing the stick bass, the drummer by turns plays the trombone, the washboard and various percussion, while the band leader adds some real old time blues licks over the top.
It also helps that the band are superb. And they take the opportunity to impress 5,000 people with their excellent set. “House of the Rising Sun” is given a real southern twist, while last track “Follow You Down” is real intoxicating stuff.
At 9pm precisely that Little Ole Band From Texas, or as Gibbons again later explains the band who “have been together for 45 years, with the same three guys and the same three chords” take to the stage, doing so with the lead song from their breakthrough album “Eliminator,” “Got Me Under Pressure.” For the next 80 minutes the aforementioned frontman and his cohorts Dusty Hill and Frank Beard do exactly what they have done for those five decades, which namely is be the best damn boogie band on the planet.
The setlist is tight and clearly well-rehearsed, “Jesus Just Left Chicago” proves their blues credentials, while “Gimme All Your Lovin,’” which is chucked in early in the sort harks back to the time when, perhaps more than any other band, they embraced the early days of MTV and made themselves stars.
Actually, tonight could have been all about nostalgia, but ends up being far from it. Last year the band stuck out a quite brilliant new record. “La Futura” saw Rick Rubin do for Top what he did for Metallica a few years ago and Sabbath in 2013, namely remind them what they were good at, while giving them a new twist.
There are four songs played from “….Futura” the best of which is lead single, “Gotsta Get Paid,” although “Flyin’ High” isn’t far behind, and this gives the show a little more of a modern turn than when last they were on these shores a few years back.
The set ends in the time honored way, the stunning one-two punch of “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs.” After this they are back with the rip roaring fun of “Tube Snake Boogie,” a medley which includes “La Grange” and “Bar B Q” before “Tush” ends things as things.
ZZ top – and their sparkly jackets, the main set sees them wear red, while the encores see them resplendent in magnificent purple numbers – were quite brilliant tonight. The sold out show gives you a clue that although those chart bothering days are behind them, the gig going public is still there for them in droves. Quite right too as they are, and most probably will always remain, tremendous fun.