ZZ Top• w/ Eric Heideman• May 3, 2023• Eccles Theater
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
On May 3rd, 2023, the iconic ZZ Top brought their blues-infused rock and roll to the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. Delivering an unforgettable concert that had fans roaring for more. The legendary band’s previous two Utah tour stops took place as part of the Red Butte Garden Outdoor Summer Concert Series. I was interested to see what their show would be like in a theater setting. While this show was not unlike those shows as far as setup and setlist, it was awesome seeing them in one of my favorite Utah venues with some die hard fans.
The night began with an opening set by local Blues musician, Eric Heideman. Eric took the stage alone with just a guitar and his voice. It was awesome to see the reception Heideman got. He had a great voice and his guitar skills were impressive. Anytime he did an intricate guitar solo, the audience would give him a loud ovation. They easily recognized his talents and I enjoyed seeing them support this hometown musician. Eccles Theater was already full while Eric was playing. Many times openers will play to a half-empty house. So it was great for Eric to be playing to a full, generous, and warm audience. I noticed between sets and after the concert that people were buying merch from Eric’s table. Eric visited with fans and I could tell many of them were really excited for the chance to talk with him.
Eric Heideman has a new album out on June 30. He will be playing The State Room in Salt Lake City on June 2. If you get the chance, give him a listen. I also think any Blues fan will enjoy seeing him live.
As soon as the lights went up, the trio launched into their “You Got Me Under Pressure” with an explosive energy that had the audience on their feet. Lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons commanded the stage with his signature growling voice, while bassist Elwood Francis and drummer Frank Beard laid down a thunderous groove that reverberated through the venue. The audience had been in good spirits before the music even started. So you can imagine how happy they were once ZZ Top took the stage.
The setlist was a greatest hits collection, featuring fan favorites like “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs,” alongside lesser-known gems that showcased the band’s versatility and musical prowess. Each song was accompanied by dazzling light displays, enhancing the already electric atmosphere of the theater.
One of the highlights of the night was when the band slowed things down with a soulful rendition of “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. It allowed Gibbons to show off his virtuosic guitar skills and had the crowd swaying to the rhythm.
ZZ Top’s charismatic performance was punctuated by playful banter and hilarious antics, including their famous moving and swaying in sync as they played. It was also hard to miss Elwood’s massive yellow guitar to start the show. The trio’s chemistry was evident in every note they played, as they effortlessly navigated through their decades-long repertoire with ease. While original bassist Dusty Hill and his comedic antics were missed, his memory was well honored by Elwood’s playing.
The concert concluded with an explosive encore, as ZZ Top tore through “La Grange”. leaving the audience begging for more. The Eccles Theater was filled with the electrifying sound of roaring guitars and pounding drums. A testament to ZZ Top’s enduring legacy and unparalleled musical talent.
In the end, it was clear that the ZZ Top concert at the Eccles Theater on May 3rd, 2023 was a triumph, leaving fans exhilarated and hungry for more of their trademark Texas-style blues-rock. The legendary band proved that they are still at the top of their game, delivering a high-energy show that will be remembered for years to come.