Before his claim to fame as the grinning guitarist for X, Billy Zoom was already a legend in his own mind on the local rockabilly scene. Fronting his own quartet on Wednesday night at the Roxy, the ex-X man went back to his bottle-blonde roots with a 45-minute set of ‘50s rock classics from the Sun Records songbook.
The one-time Gene Vincent sideman can probably play this greasy kid stuff while performing a major overhaul on one of his many motor scooters--and he never let’s you forget it either. (A favorite Zoom mannerism is to peel off picture-perfect solos while gazing off into the far corners of the postage-stamp size club).
A bad guitar-slinger and a not half-bad singer, Zoom is nothing if not full of himself, punctuating his vocals with enough winks to make you think he was about to break into “Viva Las Vegas” any second. What can you say about a performer whose apparent idea of a good time is to make musical transitions as difficult for his band and “guest stars” (mediocre opening acts James Intveld and the leader of the Fugitives) as possible?
If you’d wandered into a club and heard a set of rockabilly this tight and authentic 10 or even 15 years ago, you’d have been impressed. If you were one of the 200 or so rockabilly faithful----X fans were conspicuously absent----you could dig the hot licks, cold arrogance and sub-Jerry Lee Lewis antics and call it Wednesday night. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.