Riddle of Steel

Plus: ZZ Top and Soul Lovers

Iron men

Serial Tampa visitors Riddle of Steel return to celebrate the release of their superb third CD, 1985. Boasting a metallic sound that recalls the melodic yet complex blitz of Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand" mixed with early Van Halen (1985 is an homage to VH's 1984) and a component of post-rock moodiness, the St. Louis trio has chops to spare and a strong-voiced frontman who delivers fairly straightforward lyrics that speak to working-band realities like spending the night with a "total cougar" and someday finding "plenty of satisfaction." Challenging yet accessible, cocky yet contemplative, ROS makes music that works extremely well on several levels. Most important, they have a rep for putting on terrific live shows. Also in the lineup are Clearwater garage-rockers Très Bien!, which recently reached the top six on the Fox reality show The Next Great American Band.

Riddle Of Steel w/Roma79/Auto!Automatic!!/Très Bien!/Win Win Winter/Crate Brothers, 8 p.m. (doors), Mon., Dec. 31, Crowbar, Ybor City, $8. —Wade Tatangelo

Still on top

Unlike the vast majority of classic rock bands, ZZ Top is the same power trio that started playing Texas roadhouses in 1969. Led by singer/guitar hero Billy Gibbons (who earned Jimi Hendrix's respect while opening for the legend with his band The Moving Sidewalks in '67), ZZ Top peaked musically in '73 with the sizzling blues-rock masterstroke Tres Hombres ("La Grange," "Beer Drinkers & Hellraisers," "Jesus Just Left Chicago"). Their huge commercial breakthrough wouldn't come until a decade later with the release of Eliminator ("Gimme All Your Lovin," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Legs"). The purist in me used to balk at the band's glossy '80s hits, but the older I get the better they sound pouring through my car speakers. At any rate, ZZ Top remains an ace live band and Gibbons can still make his Les Paul talk like few others.

ZZ Top, 8 p.m. Sun., Dec. 30, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, $59.50, $69.50. —WT

Soul lovers

Billed as the "Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival," this worth-the-drive Orlando show features the first couple of contemporary roots. Trucks — The Allman Brothers Band guitarist who did a stint as Eric Clapton's sideman on a recent, Layla-intensive world tour — just released the DVD Songlines Live. The concert doc finds the crack Derek Trucks Band performing jazzy originals and covering King Curtis' "Soul Serenade," as well as the blues standard "Key to the Highway," a nod to Derek & the Dominos. Tedeschi, who was in fine voice at a Jannus Landing gig earlier this year, mixes self-penned blues numbers with powerhouse renditions of gems like the Stones' "You Got the Silver," Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's All Right)" and the rhythm and blues chestnut "Soul of a Man."

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, 7 p.m. Sat. Dec. 29, House of Blues, Orlando, $37.50. —WT

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