Houston Concert Watch 9/21: ZZ Top, Billy Joel, and More

ZZ Top will play at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Sunday, with Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson opening.  This week will also see shows by Billy Joel, Diana Krall, Wu-Tang Clan, My Chemical Romance, and Jack White.
ZZ Top will play at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Sunday, with Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson opening. This week will also see shows by Billy Joel, Diana Krall, Wu-Tang Clan, My Chemical Romance, and Jack White. Photo by Brian Marks. Creative Commons.
Lil Nas X won’t be in Houston until next month (October 12 at the 713 Music Hall), but he was making noise (and headlines) in Boston this weekend with some epic trolling. The rapper sent pizza to a group of homophobic protesters outside the venue, but the food was refused, evidently due to a fear of cooties contamination. Subsequently, Nas tweeted his comments, observing that the incident was “really good promo” and declaring that he had “accidentally fallen in love” with a member of the angry mob. He followed up the next day, tweeting, “Can’t stop thinking about the cute homophobic guy [that] was protesting my concert last night. I just know we had a connection. I miss him so much man. I’m nothing without him.” Well done, Sir, well done.
At the beginning of his career, few would have pegged Billy Joel as a future superstar. And fewer still would have reckoned that he would be selling out stadiums – not to mention Madison Freaking Square Garden on a monthly basis – 50 years hence. In 1973, his only real claim to fame was the maudlin “Piano Man,” along with the more subversive “Captain Jack.” But we all know what happened: Joel sold over 150 million albums and married a super model. And as for that second part, well, we all know what happened there too. The living legend will trot out a set (by and large) comprised of monster hits on Friday at Minute Maid Park.
The ever mercurial (and ridiculously productive) Jack White will be in town on Saturday at the Bayou Music Center as part of the Supply Chain Issues tour, supporting his latest albums, Fear of the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive, both released this year. The former is more hard rocking, the latter a study in minimalism. As for the tour, both records will be represented, along with songs from White’s previous bands the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, plus some surprise covers for good measure. The set list changes every night, so be ready for whatever White has in store.
For major throwback action, head to Toyota Center on Saturday for the New York State of Mind tour, featuring Wu-Tang Clan, Nas (not to be confused with the aforementioned Lil Nas X), and Busta Rhymes. The members of Wu-Tang, titans of ‘90s (and beyond) hip hop, have always done things just a bit differently, including the release of their 2014 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Deciding to treat the recording as a piece of fine art, the group authorized the production of a single copy, housed in a bespoke box made of silver and nickel. Ultimately, the album was sold for $2 million, to pharma bro Martin Shkreli. Following Shkreli’s conviction for securities fraud, the disc was seized by the federal government, who subsequently sold it to a non-fungible token firm, which has indicated that the album may eventually be more widely available. In the meantime, plenty of fungible Wu-Tang merch will no doubt be on sale at this weekend’s show.
Last summer, both the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top were confronted with existential crises following the death of key band members.  In both cases, the decision was made to carry on, allegedly at the urging of drummer Charlie Watts with the Stones and bassist Dusty Hill with ZZ Top. And both musicians made recommendations as to whom their replacements should be. The Stones elected to have Steve Jordan occupy the drummer’s stool, and as for “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis was drafted to play bass. The Dust will always be missed, but, by all accounts, Francis has confidently assumed his new role, down to growing an ultra beard to complement the band’s Ultra Bush guitars (see above). Check out ZZ Top 2.0 on Sunday at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, with Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson (Heart) opening.
Long before singers from Rod Stewart to Bob Dylan were recording songs by Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael, Diana Krall was putting her distinctive stamp on the Great American Songbook, under the tutelage of past masters like vocalist Rosemary Clooney and bassist Ray Brown. Finally back on the road after, well, you know, Krall will bring her sultry stylings to the Smart Financial Centre Sunday evening.
Following an official breakup in 2013, My Chemical Romance is in the midst of a reunion tour, which makes a stop at Toyota Center on Tuesday. The band’s sound has been characterized as pop punk, hard rock, glam rock, and goth rock, but don’t call them emo. A kerfuffle with the British tabloid Daily Mail erupted after the rag accused the band of championing a culture of suicide and self-harm with an “emo” philosophy.

Fans of My Chemical Romance cracked back, staging a public protest at London’s Marble Arch and carrying signs that read, “This Band Saves Lives.” Ultimately, the controversy provoked a more thoughtful analysis of the ways in which young people relate to their favorite music, with researchers finding that adolescents are not so much influenced by their favorite artists as drawn to them in order to cope with pre-existing issues. In fandom, psychologists said, people can find acceptance and reassurance, along with other mental health benefits. So take that, Daily Mail! Fun fact: the band’s costumes are designed by Collen Atwood, who has worked on the films Sweeney Todd, Chicago, and Alice in Wonderland.
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Contributor Tom Richards is a broadcaster, writer, and musician. He has an unseemly fondness for the Rolling Stones and bands of their ilk.
Contact: Tom Richards