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Review: George Thorogood and the Destroyers at the Covelli Centre

August 11, 2012 - Andy Gray
Back when he still was with Van Halen (the first time), David Lee Roth was talking about his stage antics in an interview. He pointed out that there are very few people who can stand in front of a microphone with just their voice and/or a guitar and hold the audience’s attention. The rest have to do whatever they can do, Roth said, “And I can swing from a rope.”

George Thorogood has the same attitude. He downplayed his guitar skills in an interview last month – unjustly I might add. No one will mistake him for Clapton, but Thorogood has a nimble right hand with a thumb pick giving his riffs a solid bottom end (he’s even better when a slide bar is on his left hand).

But Thorogood plays guitar with his whole body. He sells each riff with a shimmy or a shake or a big toothy grin. And he runs his mouth faster than he runs his hands up and down the neck of the guitar. And he may be the only rock star whose on stage shtick seems influenced as much by Jackie Gleason as any of the blues players who’ve inspired him.

All those skills were on display Saturday when George Thorogood and the Destroyers performed at the Covelli Centre for the second Tangled Up in Bluesfest. The show wisely was moved indoors due to the unpredictable weather. And Thorogood also had more of a stage production (multiple screens with graphics and video accompanying most of the songs), which wouldn’t have been as effective on a makeshift stage set up in the parking lot.

The songs might get shuffled around some, but Thorogood and his band have been playing essentially the same show for decades. They still play it very well. Drummer Jeff Simon and bass player Billy Blough have been with him since the ‘70s and work together seamlessly. Guitar player Jim Suhler is equally adept at adding some flashy solos and filling in the rhythm guitar work behind Thorogood, and Buddy Leach blasted sax solos over the guitar roar.

Alcohol-fueled rockers like “I Drink Alone” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” got a big response from the crowd of about 1,200, and after watching security break up a couple of fights, it was clear that some folks didn’t limit themselves to just one of anything.

“Move It On Over,” “Who Do You Love” (with opening act Tom Hambridge joining in on maracas), “You Talk Too Much,” “Cocaine Blues,” “Get a Haircut” and “Born To Be Bad” also filled the 100-minute show.

And do I even have to say the biggest cheers of all were reserved for “Bad to the Bone”?


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