As my old lady and I walk back in from the smoking area, Jim Beams in hand, we can hear Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat (Lonesome George’s opening act) crank up a Rory Gallagher-style blues rock attack that ended with a cover of “Bullfrog Blues.” After a quick trip to the bar for round two, and taking our seats, the lights dim to a blue hue and Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” is played through the PA. As the song ends, the growl of a classic hollow body Gibson can be heard in the distance.
As George Thorogood takes the stage, he strikes a chord that sounds as mean as the rattlesnake whose hide was collected for the headband stretched across his brow. The original Delaware Destroyers join the show, and the band blasts off into one of the most perfectly rock ‘n roll sets I’ve ever witnessed, with stage banter as edgy and sinful as ever, guitar licks firmly in place and vocals strong and clear.
All the many hits from their gold and platinum albums are attended to, including “House Rent Blues (One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer),” preceded by a Fonz-like swipe of the comb. During an absolutely sacred version of “I Drink Alone,” one young fan is anointed with the headstock of George’s axe. Before playing “Move It On Over,” the Destroyers’ take on the classic Hank Williams Sr. tune, George announces the “rock ‘n roll portion of the show will begin,” sarcastically ignoring that the first half of the set started with arguably the most rock ‘n roll song ever written, Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.”
Before ripping through the big closer, “Bad To The Bone,” George playfully chastises a fan that’s begging for the song with the barb, “Don’t rush me, pal, it took 40 years for me to get here, and I’m gonna savor every sweet second of it!”
The encore includes the classic “Madison Blues,” and George takes his final bow as an orchestral track of “The Star Spangled Banner” plays, finally exiting under a robe draped over him a la James Brown. He is naughty, tough, sexy and gracious—even if the duck-walks have slowed a bit, his energy is twice what most players half his age can muster. In short, George Thorogood is rock ‘n roll.
– Nik Flagstar
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