Music News & Reviews

Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top bring classics to arena

An air-guitar-playing, "Free Bird"- demanding, cigarette-lighter-waving crowd of 6,000 gathered at Intrust Bank Arena on Thursday night to see two legendary rock bands — Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top — sharing a bill on the opening night of their "Rebels and Bandoleros" tour.

The bands, who share Southern Rock lineage despite two very different paths to stardom (Skynyrd has just one remaining original member, while ZZ Top has been churning along with the same three-member lineup since 1970) treated fans to nearly two hours of classic rock radio staples.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Southern rock band whose career peaked before a 1977 plane crash killed three of its members, started off the show with its anthem of angst about working for The Man, "Working for MCA."

The Rebels in the tour's title, Lynyrd Skynyrd played a set of hit songs such as "What's Your Name," "Gimme Three Steps" and the iconic "Sweet Home Alabama."

Lynyrd Skynyrd has as many guitarists as ZZ Top has members, and that three-guitar attack that the band in known for was unleashed during "T is for Texas," where guitarists Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Mark Matejka took turns at center stage in jam that drew the song out nearly 10 minutes.

But as has been the case since the band's debut album, there was one song that the crowd was there to see.

Fans raised their beers in the air and waved Confederate flags as the band played its most famous hit, "Freebird," as its encore. Lead singer Johnny Van Zant, little brother of deceased founding member Ronnie Van Zant, assured the crowd that he wouldn't leave without singing the hit.

After a 30-minute intermission, the three members of ZZ Top, who released their first album in 1971, appeared on stage playing "Got Me Under Pressure."

ZZ Top frontmen Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons churned out their bluesy style of rock and treated fans to hits such as "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide."

The guitar-heavy set also included hits such as "Cheap Sunglasses" and "Party on the Patio."

"Wichita, Kansas. This is some kind of night," lead singer Gibbons said, shortly after taking the stage. "We're glad to be here."

Then he turned to drummer Frank Beard.

"We're in Wichita, right?"