ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons didn't impress at two Illawarra shows

Jimmy Shine and Billy Gibbons in Pyrmont shortly after Gibbons arrived in Australia for his 'Up Close & Personal' tour in January. Picture: Rodney Brewer
Jimmy Shine and Billy Gibbons in Pyrmont shortly after Gibbons arrived in Australia for his 'Up Close & Personal' tour in January. Picture: Rodney Brewer

ZZ Top fans have branded frontman Billy Gibbons’ “Up Close and Personal” tour a waste of money and demanded refunds after the legend failed to impress at shows in Thirroul.

“Disaster”, “shamozzle”, “bizarre” and “worst show I’ve ever seen” were a common theme among dozens of comments on the Facebook pages of Gibbons and the venue, Anita’s Theatre.

Anita’s managing director Nick Josifovski said he had been contacted by a number of people wanting their money back following both Friday and Saturday nights shows.

This was no gig. It was a fundraiser, and thus should have been advertised as one. I’m bitterly disappointed.

David Baird

Mr Josifovski said he passed on feedback directly to the promoter Rodney Brewer after the first show, however the second show was still disappointing.

“We hope people don’t judge us for what was presented on stage,” Mr Josifovski  said. “Ultimately it’s the artist’s reputation that is on the line.”

The shows (which are set to continue in Newcastle and Brisbane this week) were promoted as evenings of greatest hits, intimate life stories and hot rod tales with Gibbons and his entourage.

However fans were outraged at Gibbons’ lack of music and his “lack of enthusiasm” during paid meet-and-greets, as well as the strange antics of the compere. Questions were also raised over where thousands of dollars made from auctioned memorabilia was going.

Both shows failed to sell out and only held intimates crowd of around 300 each. Outside of the support band, Gibbons’ only performed three songs on Friday and four on Saturday (though it’s reported he played La Grange twice).

John Heath wrote on the venue’s Facebook page he had paid $200 for VIP tickets - which entitled him to meet the star - and only managed to get a “halfhearted smile” from the rocker.

“It looked like he didn't want to be there and could even acknowledge us when having the photo taken … what a sad legacy you are leaving Billy Gibbons,” Mr Heath said.

Like many others, David Joseph Edmondson questioned the purpose of the auctions (which weren’t advertised)  and where the money went, and felt Gibbons’ mate Jimmy Shine spent too much time chatting about his own life to the audience.

“Geriatric night what a disappointment the money raised at the auction should have went to charity not to buy parts for Shiny's hot rod, I didn't bid because I wish to forget that night,” Mr Edmondson wrote.

“This was no gig. It was a fundraiser, and thus should have been advertised as one. I’m bitterly disappointed and would believe I have every right to a refund,” David Baird commented.

While a number of others said the art deco styled toilets were the highlights of their night.

The Illawarra Mercury contacted the promoter Mr Brewer on Tuesday who said he would return with a statement from Gibbons in 10 minutes but failed to respond.

Billy Gibbons and his entourage are scheduled to perform at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle on Wednesday, January 10, and at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Brisbane on Friday January 12.

Songs and stories tours by musicians are not new to the Illawarra with veteran rocker Jimmy Barnes set to bring his second tour of that style to Anita’s Theatre this year. The Angels have also had recent success with a national tour in the same vein that stopped by Wollongong.