ZZ Ward rode into town last night to reconnect with 500 or so friends she hadn’t seen in a couple of years. ZZ loves to play live music in San Francisco, she told the audience, because she always receives a lot of love here. This evening it was no different, and as she kicked off her performance with “Put the Gun Down” (a song that she was quoted as saying is “about another woman who is holding the strings to my relationship like it’s a marionette”) you could tell it was going to get hotter than the devil’s armpit.
Come to think of it, it was unusually hot at The Independent. The sweltering heat must have been the result of a completely sold-out venue full of sweaty nightlifers that had long awaited the return of the blues guitar slinger. One lady that I was talking to in the audience mentioned that after four times of trying she was finally able to get her hands on a couple of tickets. So at least for her, this evening needed to be something special.
And special it was. From the divine reverberation of the leads that were emanating from her guitarist’s classic Telecaster (did Hendrix come back from the grave?) to the harmonica leads played by ZZ herself, to the tear-dropping emotional ballad about lost love, the show was phenomenal.
And you could tell ZZ was in her comfort zone. Similar to the way she used to watch her father sing in front of their fireplace to her family when she was a child (something she shared with us here), she was following in her father’s footsteps. ZZ sported a similar Fedora but rocked it with a dope Wu-Tang shirt, proving the old adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The performance’s apex came a little more than halfway into the set when ZZ shared with us this heartfelt confession. “I just love playing music for you guys,” she said. “I wanna get old doing this. Will you still love me when I’m old?” I think it’s pretty safe to say that at least for San Francisco it’s going to take a lot more than a few gray hairs to put a stop to its love affair with ZZ Ward.
Photos courtesy of Louis Raphael Photography