wiI haven’t spent a lot of time in Baltimore lately. Yes, I have been to the big 3 museums (Walters, BMA, the B&O), Ft. McHenry, and G&M’s Restaurant which serves outrageously good all-lump crab cakes, but Baltimore has become for me what New Jersey is to most people from Pennsylvania: a place you drive through to get to your real intended destination. So it was with some pleasant surprise that I found myself with Jonathan and Blaine at Pier 6 on a very lovely Tuesday evening. And I was ready for some rock ‘n roll with Gov't Mule and ZZ Top.
Let me tell you a little about Pier 6. In the Inner Harbor area, it has a pavilion with a few thousand permanent seats and large supporting posts that hold up a weather-tight roof of white fabric. I’m sure you’ve seen those circus-type tent pavilions before, right? Anyway, it’s otherwise open air, and is surrounded by water. So while the bands were playing, the occasional sail boat would cruise past. And there was one of those iconic Chesapeake Bay lighthouses in view, too; you know, the octagonal ones that are low-slung and cool looking and should always have a skipjack close by them to complete the visual setting. With the downtown Baltimore skyline set further back, it’s a pretty interesting setting that is quite pleasing to the eye. It’s not perfect, however: the acoustics are fair, but lyrics were generally lost in the billowing sails of the fabric roof. Nonetheless, there are far worse places to see live music. Yes, how did you know that I was thinking of Camdem?
Now, it is Baltimore, so the GPS took me to the venue via the third-world, but I eventually made it with no problem, and had a nice pre-concert meal with Jonathan in the adjacent Little Italy neighborhood. I parked on the street for $4 and chanced a parking ticket. But I made it without one (can I hear a whoo-hoo from the crowd? Thanks!) and thus avoided the $40 parking charge for the lots. [Quick aside: paying $40 to park at a concert where I’ve already dropped $70 for a ticket is plain highway robbery. Most club shows that I see cost in the $15-25 range, and there is usually some free form of parking around (albeit, since it’s in Philly, I’m parked in the ubiquitous broken glass). But still, $40? I ain’t cheap, but I am frugal, and I can work up a lather about being ripped off for parking, concessions and ticket fees.]
But all that’s for another day. A great double bill featuring Gov't Mule and ZZ Top was worth the effort of driving to Baltimore on a Tuesday night (a school night!) and to pay non-BRP like sums to see.
Gov’t Mule opened the show, and put out their signature southern blues-based rock with long guitar jams. Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, both of the Allman Brothers Band, formed GM as a side project to the ABB. Haynes has a good voice and can play a mean guitar. And he has also emerged as a solid songwriter and arranger. Woody, unfortunately, died a while ago, but GM has kept on over the years, and continues to play their southern rock ‘n blues throughout the country. They were really solid in Baltimore (although, as noted above, the vocal acoustics were bad), and we enjoyed them quite a bit. The crowd was also into it, and the band was clearly juiced up by the positive vibes coming their way. I recommend this band as a live act, and hope you get the chance to see them the next time you and they end up in the same town on the same night.
Here are some pictures – sorry, no close ups, but these aren’t bad:
Next up was ZZ Top. Still sporting their hats, sunglasses and Hasidic beards, these guys look like it’s 1975 out there. In fact, Billy Gibbons made the joke that they have been touring together for 4 decades: same 3 guys, same 3 chords. Haha, you have to love a self-deprecating sense of humor, and clearly Billy has it.
As far as the music, the boys sounded the same, which is a good thing. They rocked out on all the singles you know, from La Grange to Tush, but performed a disappointing encore consisting solely of the University of Miami’s fight song (“Jailhouse Rock” for those not in the know). Other than that, they tore through the hits, played a song or two with fur-covered guitars (see below), and gave the fans what they wanted. You have to admire a band that continues to work the crowd, joke around and have fun on stage, and rock on and on with the same guys and the same songs. Artistic illusions behind them, they are performers going from town to town and entertaining the baby boomers. Oh, and I did not win the AARP award for oldest dude in this night’s show. In fact, far from it. I’m not sure whether or not I’m happy about that, but I’ll take it.
The two bands ended in time for BRP to get back up I-95 and catch a few zzzz’s before going to work on Wednesday. And yes, I was out yet again on Wednesday night, but this time for a work function at the impeccable Barnes Foundation in Philly. I’m not going to write that up, but there was no rest for the weary last week.
Below are some photos of ZZ Top.
Oh, and for those wondering about the Hokies, and that would be all of you, they bounced back from the Tennessee game to thrash Boston College. I’m telling you now: I like this team, and if they avoid the injury bug, there aren’t many teams who will want to play the Hokies at the end of this season.
With that, I say adieu to you and you and you. Have a great day, and I’ll be back with more reviews and other fun. I have more shows lined up in the next month or so, including some of my favorite all-time acts: the Buzzcocks, Squeeze, the English Beat, Ash and Teenage Fanclub. Wow! Plus, Catfish and the Bottlemen! The kid knows how to live, right? Love ya all, thanks for reading.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.