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Romain Guelat
ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard)
Writing Credits:

With an unchanged line-up stretching back to 1969 and global album sales in excess of 50 million, ZZ Top continue to delight fans around the world with brilliant live concerts and great music. The band has made a number of visits to Montreux over the years, and this concert from the 2013 Festival is undoubtedly one of their finest live performances.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 7/22/14

• Interview with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill
• “Billy Gibbons on the Montreux Jazz Festival” Featurette

• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

ZZ Top: Live at Montreux 2013 [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 28, 2014)

Now 45 years into their existence, ZZ Top keeps chugging along without a stop. We get a look at the band circa 2013 via the simply titled Live At Montreux 2013. Performed at the iconic Montreux Jazz Festival, the 17-song show offers a recap of the band’s long career.

Nothing comes off of 1971’s ZZ Top’s First Album or 1972’s Rio Grande Mud. 1973’s Tres Hombres provides “Waitin’ for the Bus”, “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “La Grange”, while 1975’s Fandango! throws out “Tush”.

We skip 1977’s Tejas and 1979’s Deguello. “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Pearl Necklace” come from 1981’s El Loco, and 1983’s MTV-fueled smash Eliminator presents “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Legs”, “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Sharp Dressed Man”. The band skips 1985’s follow-up Afterburner but 1990’s Recycler offers “My Head’s In Mississippi” and 1994’s Antenna delivers “Pin Cushion”.

Lastly, 2012’s La Futura boasts “I Gotsta Get Paid”. “Flyin’ High” and “Chartreuse”. We also find covers of Jimmy McGriff’s “Kiko”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” and Freddie King’s “I Love the Woman”.

At no point in my life have I threatened to become a big ZZ Top fan. As I recall, I liked their 1980s hits well enough during that era but I never owned any of their material until the 21st century.

Even when I snared some ZZ Top CDs over the last decade or so, I did so as a collector; I pursue the earliest pressings from Japan and West Germany and grabbed Eliminator and a couple of others due to that hobby. I liked Eliminator more than expected but the band still didn’t turn into a fave.

Eventually I saw ZZ Top when they opened for Aerosmith a few years ago. As I recall, they were perfectly fine but no better than that. Honestly, I kind of felt they mailed in their performance; I got the impression they’d played virtually the same set 20 zillion times and just didn’t invest much emotion into the event.

While Montreux offers a more distinctive setting than that double-bill with Aerosmith, it doesn’t mean we find an invigorated ZZ Top. They play their songs with reasonable skill and professionalism but they don’t make them leap off the stage. This leaves us with a competent performance but not one that stands out in a particularly positive manner.

The same goes for the presentation on this Blu-ray. Director Romain Guelat doesn’t stick us with fast cuts or gimmicks, which I appreciate, but he also fails to add much life to the presentation. Montreux looks like any of 1000 other concert presentations, with similar angles, zooms and editing techniques. Perhaps this becomes “if it ain’t broke…” territory, and I’ll take “meat and potatoes” over pointless flash, but I still think Guelat could’ve brought more pizzazz to the show.

Does this sound like a lukewarm reaction to the show? It should, because that’s how I feel. I like ZZ Top and I think Montreux offers a decent representation of the band more than four decades into their existence, but it does nothing to thrill me.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

ZZ Top: Live At Montreux 2013 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The concert looked terrific from start to finish.

At all times, sharpness looked excellent. The image showed great detail and let us view the elements well. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws looked absent, and I saw no issues related to artifacting, noise, or other distractions.

The majority of the colors came from lighting, though some purple jackets added pep. The hues from lights looked well developed and accurate, as even the thickest tones remained distinctive and rich. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots came across as clear and appropriately visible. This became a simply stellar visual presentation.

Given the spare instrumentation found from the three-piece band, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix didn’t have to fight to make the elements heard. They were well placed in the soundfield and meshed smoothly. Surround usage leaned toward crowd noise and general reinforcement of the music. The surrounds accurately and solidly supported the front but didn’t cause distractions.

Audio quality sounded decent but unexceptional. Vocals came across as acceptably accurate, but they lacked the consistently natural tones I’d like. Midrange dominated the piece and dynamics seemed only moderately good.

Though most high-end material was fairly clear and well rendered, bass response was adequate but no better. Low-end seemed somewhat lacking, and I didn’t get the sense of warmth from the track that I expected. This seemed like a somewhat compressed presentation that remained mostly positive but it didn’t shine.

When we go to extras, we find an Interview with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. In this six-minute piece, we hear about band history, their beards, and some of their music. The program offers a few decent notes but seems too general to deliver much.

We also find Billy Gibbons on the Montreux Jazz Festival. During the five-minute, 46-second reel, Gibbons discusses his feelings about the Festival and experiences there. This one becomes more specific/detailed that its predecessor but still lacks a lot of informational value.

Finally, we find an eight-page booklet. It provides an essay from “Montreux Jazz Festival habitue” Pierre Perrone as well as photos and some credits. It’s a minor piece but a nice complement.

At its best, ZZ Top: Live at Montreux 2013 delivers a moderately positive concert from a good little rock band. It never rises above the level of “fairly decent”, unfortunately, and it seems like an enjoyable but lackluster show. The Blu-ray boasts superb visuals along with acceptable audio and minor bonus materials. You won’t find a better-looking ZZ Top show on the market but you’ll probably dig up one with more interesting performances.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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