Before ZZ Ward even took the stage at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades, the audience was buzzing. After explosive performances from openers Billy Raffoul and Black Pistol Fire, the crowd was ready for the multi-instrumentalist blues rocker to throw the evening’s final punch. And by the time Ward sauntered onstage, studded black leather pants and all, it was immediately clear that giving the audience a knock out was exactly what she intended to do.
With the first seductive twangs of opening song “Let It Burn“, the packed crowd bought in instantly to Ward’s energy, eagerly joining her in a whirlwind of blazing enthusiasm and passion. The 31-year-old’s setlist packed a deliciously impressive punch, giving the raucous audience little time to recover from the stomping beats of one song before barreling into the next. By “Put The Gun Down“, only the set’s third song (and one of the most irresistible), the audience was already a mass of delighted, dancing patrons. Ward’s arrangements are biting in their intensity, and her fiercely honest, emotional lyrics provide her with the sizzling authenticity of a genuine blues performer.
While blues is the undeniable driver of Ward’s songwriting, her distinct sound is rounded out by an unmistakeable hip-hop influence. Ward has frequently cited her love of the two genres, and has woven them together for a blues performance with an extra kick. “She Ain’t Me” marries striking trap hip hop beats with harmonica and a twangy drawl that, performed live, Ward instills with a personal flair that is almost magical in its unexpected power.
Rounding out the end of her tour, ZZ Ward brought the whole package to the Sacramento stage: powerhouse vocals, primal beats, and natural charm twirled together to enthrall the audience in a haze of bluesy glory. For that hour, every person in that room was enthralled with this vibrant rocker, swept up in her impassioned artistry and wholly unable to pry their eyes from her performance. But in all honesty, who would even want to?
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