The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour
Featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland
Sept. 2, 2023
A clear blue sky and warm sunshine were over head at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia Maryland, and southern rock royalty, Lynyrd Skynyrd were in town to continue the Sharp Dressed Simple Man tour with Texas blues trio ZZ Top.
Uncle Kracker started the evening with a friendly, easy going seven song set. Songs like “Nobody’s Sad on a Saturday Night” and a cover of Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” got the crowd in the mood to party and listen to music. These songs were followed by his biggest solo hit “Follow Me.”
With “When the Sun Goes Down” by Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker let everyone in the audience know it is “Good to Be Me” and to “Smile.” He closed his set with a cover of “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray and then he graciously thanked the fans and the stage crew as he left the stage.
Following the opening set by Uncle Kracker and his band, the Lynyrd Skynyrd band hit the stage to loud cheers and whistles from the crowd.
Formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964 as My Backyard, the band changed their name to the more familiar Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969 and released their first album in 1973. The band released five studio albums and one live album before tragically losing their guiding force and frontman, Ronnie Van Zant, in a plane crash in 1977. Along with Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister and back up singer Cassie Gaines as well as their assistant road manager and the two pilots lost their lives that horrible day. The rest of the band were terribly injured, and it didn’t look like the band could continue afterwards.
But the band reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour with Ronnie’s brother Johnny handling the lead vocals. The band toured with the surviving members as a tribute to those they lost.
Over the years, the surviving original members began to pass away. This tour is Skynyrd’s first full tour since original guitarist and last surviving original member Gary Rossington died in March of this year.
Currently, the band consists of Johnnie Van Zant on lead vocals, Ricky Medlocke (at one time an early member of Skynyrd and the band Blackfoot) along with Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Dark Star Riders), and Mark Matejka on guitars. The rhythm section is made up of drummer Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees) and bassist Keith Christopher. Peter Keys handles keyboards and backing vocals are provided by the Honkettes.
Over the course of the evening, the band showcased nearly all the big hits from their heyday that their fans love and expect to hear, during the 14-song set.
The band played rockers like “What’s Your Name” and the cautionary “That Smell” to a slower tempo mid section consisting of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” and “Simple Man” before finishing with the uptempo songs “Gimme Three Steps,” JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Holding his flag draped microphone stand, Johnny graciously thanked all the fans for coming out to the show.
Of course, the band couldn’t leave the venue without playing their signature classic, “Free Bird,” and they duly gave the fans what they came to hear.
Watch Lynyrd Skynyrd perform “Free Bird” live in 1977 via YouTube:
A large mirrored ball hung from the ceiling, reflecting beams of light, as Skynyrd tore through the rousing number until its breathless climax and the crowd stood and cheered wildly.
Although none of the original members are still with us, the Free Bird still flies high.
1. Workin’ for MCA
2. Skynyrd Nation
3. What’s Your Name
4. That Smell
5. I Know a Little
6. Whiskey Rock-a-Roller
7. Saturday Night Special
8. The Ballad of Curtis Loew
9. Tuesday’s Gone
10. Simple Man
11. Gimme Three Steps
12. Call Me the Breeze
13. Sweet Home Alabama
14. Free Bird
Here are some photos of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sept. 2, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Mike Sprouse / Odd Rocker Photography.
That lil’ ol’ trio from Texas, ZZ Top, followed up the southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd, with some tasty, southern fried blues. Vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons started their 16-song set with “Got Me Under Pressure” from their monster early ’80s Eliminator album and didn’t hold back.
The blue based jams of “I Thank You,” “Waitin’ for the Bus,” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” shared space with the guitar synth based “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and the tongue in cheek “Pearl Necklace,” a tale of a lovely girl with simple tastes.
Billy sang the boastful “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” and let the raucous Saturday night audience know who was large and in charge. Then the Reverend Willie G and his mighty six string told the crowd “I Gotsta Get Paid” and “My Head’s in Mississippi,” and no one doubted him in the least.
A cover of the old school classic “Sixteen Tons” followed and then the power duo of “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” brought the curtain down.
After leaving the stage to change into sparkly red jackets, Billy and bassist Elwood Francis returned to the stage, along with their one and only rhythmic and powerful drummer, Frank Beard, for the night’s encore.
First up was an old gem from the one that started it all, ZZ Top’s First Album; the tasty “Brown Sugar” (not to be confused with the Stones song of the same name) and the Reverend gave the six strings of his beat up looking guitar a real dirty work out.
The band followed that classic with an even dirtier one, the good ol’ “Tube Snake Boogie.” Boogie-woogie baby, all night long.
Finally, it was time for everyone to visit that home full of nice girls out on the range, in “La Grange.” A how-how-how, indeed!
Watch ZZ Top perform “La Grange” live from Gruene Hall via YouTube:
Billy, Frank and Elwood never fail to get the adoring crowd boogieing in the aisles, so here’s to them and another 50 years of the dirty and delicious Texas blues!
1. Got Me Under Pressure
2. I Thank You
3. Waitin’ for the Bus
4. Jesus Just Left Chicago
5. Gimme All Your Lovin’
6. Pearl Necklace
7. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
8. I Gotsta Get Paid
9. My Head’s in Mississippi
10. Sixteen Tons
11. Just Got Paid
12. Sharp Dressed Man
14. Brown Sugar
15. Tube Snake Boogie
16. La Grange
Here are some photos of ZZ Top performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sept. 2, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Mike Sprouse / Odd Rocker Photography.