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Billy Gibbons riffs on Jeff Beck, Vegas return

Updated June 1, 2023 - 8:35 am

Billy F. Gibbons opened for Jeff Beck so long ago, it was before BFG was in that little old band from Texas.

“I was 17 years old and in the Moving Sidewalks, before ZZ Top. We played a show down in Texas in 1968, opening for the Jeff Beck Group,” says Gibbons, the rock legend who has a home in Las Vegas. “They had Rod Stewart on vocals … I remember that Jeff was playing a Les Paul guitar, and Ron Wood was playing a Fender Telecaster bass.”

Gibbons remarked to Beck how much he liked the power of the amps the band plugged into that night.

“Jeff and Ron were both blasting through a stack of Marshal 100-watt amps,” Gibbons says. “But they were not available in the states. So Jeff said, ‘I’ll make it happen,’ and he arranged not one, not two, not three, but four Marshall amps to be delivered to us. That became the cornerstone for the ZZ Top sound.”

Gibbons, Stewart and Wood came together with several other superstars to honor Beck in a rock doubleheader May 22-23 at Royal Albert Hall.

Beck’s onetime Yardbirds bandmate Eric Clapton hosted the two nights in tribute to Beck, the blues-rock icon who died in January at age 78. Guests stars included Kirk Hammett, John McLaughlin, Robert Randolph, Gary Clark Jr., Joss Stone, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Imelda May, Olivia Safe, Chris Stainton and Doyle Bramhall II.

Gibbons played “Isolation” with Depp and Hammett, “Rough Boy” solo, “Rice Pudding,” with Wood and Stainton, and an all-star jam of “Train Kept A Rollin.’”

Gibbons says ZZ Top should be back on stage in Vegas later this year. The band sells out The Venetian Theatre in its limited-engagement run. The band’s next U.S. tour runs from June 21 in West Palm Beach, Fla. through Sept. 17 in Camden, N.J. Vegas is not on the series, which makes me optimistic Vegas is saved for residency-run status.

Gibbons’ memories of Beck tribute show are not restricted to the performances.

“I think the takeaway is, I’m in the dressing room with Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, John McLaughlin and Kirk Hammett,” Gibbons said with a laugh. “We were all crammed into the same dressing room, but everybody was taken by the genuine warmth of the event. This tribute was a well-deserved for a guy that, among guitarists, defies description.”

Daylight decade

Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay turns 10 this year. The club was overtaken Memorial Day Weekend by vowel-resistant rap star Blxst, who on Saturday hung with J’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hip-hop headliner Ty Dolla $ign, with guests Wiz Khalifa and RJMrLa, was up Sunday. Rapper Blueface, ex-Lakers star and head coach Byron Scott, and Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson were also in the mix.

New show at Harrah’s

What would you call a show that mashes hypnosis and improv comedy? If you said, “Hyprov: Improv Under Hypnosis,” ding-ding! Into the lightning round!

The show opens June 10 at Harrah’s Showroom, toggling dates and times with Donny Osmond. Performancs are 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Master hypnotist Asad Mecci and special-guest improv comic Colin Mochrie of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” open the production. A rotating cast of guest improvisers join Mecca. Stephanie Courtney, Jonathan Mangum, Barrett Foa and Jeff Hiller are among the vets who have appeared in “Hyprov.”

May We Recommend …

“Mad Apple” at New York-New York.

The Cirque show that had the unenviable assignment of replacing the popular, adult and too-expensive “Zumanity” notched its year anniversary Friday. Show No. 500 was Monday.

An array of variety acts (a world-class hand balancet, high-flying basketball dunkers, fearless comic Harrison Greenbaum) and a live band propel this show. Skeptics wondered if Cirque could pull off another hit in the pandemic reopening. It has.

Great Moments in Social Media

Flavor Flav’s Memorial Day Weekend tribute on Instagram, where he uses sparklers as a (cigarette) lighter to Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” is solid gold. Another dandy from the man whose time is always now.

Cool Hang Alert

Carol-Lyn’s All Stars play Remix at The Strat from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. The ever-rocking Carol-Lyn Liddle fronts this outfit. Expect power. Don’t expect a cover charge.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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