Admittedly, we knew little about ZZ Ward or her music before we caught her set at Firefly Festival in 2013. However, from the moment she took the stage on that hot summer day and began to sing, we were instantly smitten. Her soulful voice captivated us and we knew we’d relish the chance to see her play on a smaller stage, sometime in the future.
While she has played twice in Philadelphia at The TLA since then, we were unable to make it to the show. That all changed on Friday night, February 28th when she returned to the venue for the 3rd time in less than a year to kick off the very first night of her ‘Last Love’ tour.
We wish we’d had the time to arrive early and catch the opening sets by “The O’My’s” and “Grizfolk”, but it’s been a hectic week here at Independent Philly and sometimes you have to cut your losses and keep your eye on the prize.
We were pumped for this show already but after interviewing ZZ Ward earlier in the week, our anticipation for Friday night snowballed exponentially. The stage was being set up for ZZ Ward’s performance when we arrived at the venue around 940pm and about 20 minutes later, the lights dimmed, and her band took the stage, with ZZ Ward following close behind.
Rocking one of her trademark fedoras and a black furry jacket, she kicked off the show with “OVERdUe”, a tune from her 2012 “Eleven Roses” mix-tape, which she followed up with one our favorite songs, “Put The Gun Down”.
When we spoke with her about her smaller venue shows during our interview, she told us, “I think you get to meet me as a person a little bit more on stage, and get to know me a little better. I think that’s fun for people because I have a really good time on stage, mostly because of my fans”. She wasn’t lying. The TLA’s more intimate setting (as compared to thousands of people at Firefly Festival) afforded us the chance to see her personality bubble to the surface, and we liked what we saw.
Her voice, her modern take on The Blues, and her style, all combine to make ZZ Ward a stand-out breath-of-fresh-air in an era when so many other acts seem to blend together into an abyss of similarity. Her interaction with the fans was playful and one of mutual admiration. It was clear that she was at home on the stage, and loved every minute of it (while singing, playing guitar and harmonica, and dancing around the stage).
We enjoyed every song from start to finish but some of our favorites were “365 Days”, “Lil Darlin”, “Cryin’ Wolf”, and “Blue Eyes Blind” (which she performed for her one song encore).
The sky is the limit for ZZ Ward as far as we’re concerned. If she’s coming to your City, or you’ll be at Coachella or Bonnaroo, we highly suggest you not miss the opportunity to see her perform. You can thank us later.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
You can view the full set-list and additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):
2. Put The Gun Down
3. Til the Casket Drops
4. Cinnamon Stix
5. Got It Bad
6. 365 Days
7. Charlie Ain’t Home
8. Lil Darlin’
10. Last Love Song
12. If I Could Be Her
13. Cryin’ Wolf
15. Move Like U Stole It
16. Blue Eyes Blind (Encore)