ZZ Top, with opener Gov’t Mule, Rocked the Sand’s Event Center

Photos & Story by: Kimberly Kanuck


ZZ Top, with opener Gov’t Mule, gave Bethlehem some lovin’ when they made a stop on their tour at the Sand’s Event Center Sunday night. We were fortunate to catch this leg of the tour because Gov’t Mule is only performing with ZZ Top from September 9th to 20th.  ZZ Top, the American blues-rock and hard-rock band, originally formed in Houston, TX over 45 years ago has had seven Billboard Top 10 albums and has earned a place for themselves in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are officially the world’s longest running rock band with its original line-up still intact. On August 12th, they released their first official live album ‘Greatest Hits Live.’  Gov’t Mule, the Southern rock, blues-rock, hard rock, jam band, is celebrating their 20-year anniversary. They also just released a new album entitled ‘The Tel-Star Sessions’ on August 5, 2016. This album consists of the band’s very first, and never-before-released, demos made in June 1994 at Tel-Star Studios in Bradenton, Florida.

Gov’t Mule opened up the show, filling the room with their sweet Southern blues-rock sound. It was immediately noticeable that it was impossible not to be drawn into their unique sound with the strong melodic vocals and endless supply of guitar riffs by Warren Haynes.  Although it was a short set by ‘mule standards, the band brought the energy that they are known for to covers such as Niel Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and a powerful performance of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys’  “Machine Gun”.  They closed the set with a beautiful rendition of Allman Brother’s “Soul Shine”.

When it was time for ZZ Top, fans were excited to see a band that’s been performing in PA for the past 4 decades! What made this act so special is that it’s the same 3 original members that continues to put  on a profound show. There’s just something about their stage presence that makes them the epitome of cool: their side steps in unison, their long beards, sunglasses, throaty Southern vocals, and blues-rock guitars.  Mid-set they told the fans that the Management at Sands told them there’s just one rule – “there is to be no drinking during the gospel songs.” So they said “ok, well, we have a rule of our own: there will be no gospel songs!” to which the crowd erupted in laughter.   While they did play their fan favorites like “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Sharp Dressed Man”, they also went “way back” and played Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” to energize the crowd.  Later on in the set they switched to their white furry guitars for another crowd pleaser “Legs.”  Adorned in sequin jackets, ZZ Top took the stage for the encore to perform 2 more huge hits “La Grange” and “Tush.”

Great night for guitar enthusiasts, jam fans, rock fans, and blues fans alike.