We'll never know how close ZZ Top, 3 Doors Down and Gretchen Wilson came to not performing in Alpharetta on Sunday night. The bands refused to perform in Alabama the night before because of safety concerns.
"We're definitely from 'the show must go on' school but had to draw the line this time when we found out that numerous hazards were present at the venue. We couldn't, in good conscience, do the show knowing that the safety for those on and off stage would be in jeopardy," ZZ Top said in a statement on Saturday that's since been posted on their website.
But for those of us who were at a damp Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Sunday night, we're glad the show could go on in Alpharetta.
What did you think of Sunday night's concert? Add your comments below.
Gretchen Wilson opened the night, and had to deal with a shifting, growing crowd as concertgoers seemed to have delayed their arrival to the venue because of torrential downpours. She didn't let the latecomers–who might just have been waiting in their cars in hopes the rain would stop–affect her peformance.
This "Redneck Woman" performed some of her own tunes, and go the crowd into the music with her hard rocking, country style. Alpharetta might have been the first place she performed her latest single, "One Good Friend," which was just released on iTunes last week. She ended her set with a shift to rock 'n' roll, making a reasonable transition to the next act up, 3 Doors Down.
Before 3 Doors Down hit the stage, Wilson was set up to autograph CDs and other items for concertgoers. A sea of umbrellas filled the area on one side of the venue as the rain never let up much until the concert was almost over.
I'm not a big fan of 3 Doors Down, and the type of music they play is more difficult for my hearing to separate. Guitar riffs blend in with each other. What I heard showed me they were in good form, and I heard more than one audience member say they were better than they expected. No complaints from the crowd here, they were on their feet in a large part of the section between the sound board and the stage.
But the crowd was here in Alpharetta for ZZ Top, with some audience members not even arriving until 3 Doors Down already was on stage. The "little band from Texas" made it all worthwhile. I didn't even mind that my shoes were still soaking wet, rain was dripping down from the roof way over my head (and onto it). Not even the smokers who lit up inside the amphitheater bothered me. Well, they really did bother me, but did you know you can text amphitheater staff and they'll come solve problems for you so you don't even have to get involved? That number can be used to quickly alert staff to medical emergencies, too.
Yes, Bob, you say, but what about the music?
In a word, great.
ZZ Top has been around since 1969. You remember that year, don't you? Man first walked on the Moon. (Go, Neil Armstrong!) Race riots and the Democratic Convention helped convince my parents to get us the heck out of a Chicago suburb and move north to Wisconsin. Richard Nixon was our president and we were in Vietnam, not Afghanistan or Iraq.
But that's not when I first became aware of ZZ Top. Nope, I learned about them through a dubious source, MTV. Those early music videos came along as I left college and started working in the real world. So I could afford MTV or hung out with people who had cable.
On Sunday night, I was reminded that ZZ Top had many great songs that came out long before the 1980s. "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" struck a chord with the crowd, though there definitely more of the former at the amphitheater. But their big hits "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man" were greatly appreciated by the crowd. Women especially seemed to love "Sharp Dressed Man," belting out the chorus extra loud–probably to give a big hint to the men present that's something they should consider.
How about another word for the performance? Fun.
The music was fun, but Billy Gibbons managed to turn the simple act of autographing an old album into comedy. Once Dusty Hill and Frank Beard added their signatures, he turned into an auctioneer, calling out bids for the crowd before passing off the album to a roadie who gave it back to the front row fan.