In the middle of a rousing version of “Get a Job,” George Thorogood grinned out at the audience and yelled, “How does it feel to be 17 years old again?!”
That statement nails it. While some of the crowd was 17 when Thorogood and the Destroyers first landed on the scene like an anvil on a coyote, Lonesome George’s 30-year-old catalog of blues/rockabilly blasters shoots right to the heart of the adolescent in all of us. It’ that same buzz some people get from muscle cars and Kung Fu movies: There’s nothing intellectual or sophisticated about it, and that’s exactly the point.
Thorogood had the crowd on its feet before he even played a note. “How sweet it is,” he bellowed, and then hit the gas on “Rock Party.” Unlike a box of chocolates, you know exactly what you’re going to get at a Destroyers show, and Thorogood faithfully delivered with rock radio staples like “I Drink Alone,” “Move it On Over” and the ever-popular barroom lament “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” When the crowd roared out the lyrics without provocation, Thorogood cracked, “I take it some of you people have heard this story before.”
It didn’t matter that the licks weren’t pretty, and a few of them missed by a mile. It also didn’t matter that Thorogood still sang, “I’m just 22, and I don’t mind dyin'” during “Who Do You Love” – even though his jet-black pompadour did its best to cover a fairly decent case of male-pattern baldness. What mattered was Thorogood took no prisoners as he gave the crowd what they’ve wanted for more than three decades.
And he had a great time doing it. “Hey,” he informed one of the rowdier members of the audience, “they’re payin’ me to make a fool of myself!” Nice work if you can get it.
Initially it seemed as though Thorogood hired Tom Hambridge and the Rattlesnakes because their instrumental package – guitar, bass, and drum (yes, that’s “drum,” not “drums”) – could be cleared in 10 seconds. But Hambridge writes songs that press some of the same buttons as Thorogood, and that made for a pretty nice 30-minute opener.
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk