I’ve enjoyed US band George Thorogood and the Destroyers for more years than I care to remember. They have been around for more than 30 years making bar-room blues/rock and singing low-down and dirty songs featuring badness involving women, roadside bars and hard drinking. There are no sweet ballads to be heard here; just black-clad, testosterone-dripping, simple 12-bar blues. Fantastic stuff which makes me want to groove and grind in a way that only the blues can.
So when we heard they were were coming to the UK, Moth and me got tickets for last night’s gig in Bristol. Thankfully we had seats in row B at last night’s sell-out show, so we had a fabulous view of all the action and I could remain seated to ease my poorly back.
George plays a series of hollow-bodied electric guitars, picking, strumming and sliding his way through a back catalogue of songs including ‘One bourbon, one scotch, one beer’, ‘I drink alone’, ‘You talk to much’, ‘Get a haircut’, ‘Who do you love’, ‘The fixer’ and perhaps the song for which he is best known: ‘Bad to the bone’. His vocals are growling and clear and I particularly like the way you can hear every word of his lyrics with all the thinly disguised sexual references.
“When I’m bad, I’m better” George tells the crowd.
A ruggedly handsome fellow in his youth, a life of touring and badness has taken it’s toll on George. But he doesn’t care, he’s having a wild time strutting, pelvic-thrusting, spinning and making thrilling music with his band. Together with a drummer, a bass player, a guitarist and a giant farty saxophone he makes a fast, exciting and tight sound. George has two trademarks: his rolling “brrrrrrrrr” mid-song tongue rolls and his slide-playing using a bottleneck to create that irresistable bluesy sound.
“Isn’t it great to feel 16 again?” George asked. “Yeah!” roared the audience whose average age was about 52.
He stood directly in front of us and I caught his eye as his slid his bottleneck up his fretboard. He wiggled his tongue lewdly at me. I winked back at him. I wouldn’t want to go there, you understand, but as part of the show it made my night. “Tart” said Moth.
“Is everyone having a good time?” George asked. “Yeah!” screamed the audience who were up for rocking the night away.
His punishing touring schedule – he seems to have been on the road for 30 years – hasn’t diminished the thrill he so clearly feels about playing in front of a live audience. He sweated profusely, gave everything he had and loved every minute. As did the audience. He is living proof that you get out what you put in. Fnarr, fnarr.