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Thorogood raises the roof

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By: Rob Williams

Updated: May 24 at 12:32 AM CDT

George Thorogood's feel-good blues-rock has always been the perfect soundtrack to sitting outside and having a few cold ones.

So on one of the first beautiful Fridays of the season in Winnipeg there were moments during the lengthy three-act show at the MTS Centre it would have been nice if the roof would have retracted to let in some of that sunshine, making it an even better experience for the 4,100 fans who gave up their patio seats for a chance to hang out with the Delaware Destroyer, acoustic blues legend Taj Mahal and gospel stalwarts the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Thorogood was the headliner and took to the bare stage with his arms in the air, wearing a bandana and sunglasses, greeting the crowd with a yell of "How sweet it is!" before he and his long-serving band The Destroyers ripped into the boogie-shaker Rock Party, setting the tone for the night.

Three decades of hits and covers followed with the radio staple Who Do You Love second on the set list, which got the crowd on its feet, where many of them stayed for the remainder of the 100-minute set for favourites like Get a Haircut, Bad to the Bone, Move It On Over and You Talk Too Much.

"Welcome to the rock party ladies and gentlemen. We're going to do some dirty things tonight. We're going to do some nasty things and we're going to do some very bad things. I will do everything in my power to get arrested tonight. If somebody's going to go to jail tonight it may as well be me," he announced before the groove-heavy jam The Fixer.

At 58, the Delaware-born guitar slinger shows no signs of slowing down: he strutted around the stage like his mentor Chuck Berry, pulled off some synchronized moves with his long serving four-piece band and ripped off solos effortlessly.

With more than 30 years stage experience Thorogood knows how to please his beer-drinking party-ready fans, and even better, it's not just some phony crowd-pleasing shtick -- he is genuinely honest and passionate about the music he loves and is enthusiastic about sharing it with the masses.

The wonderfully scuzzy I Drink Alone led into the iconic One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer, a John Lee Hooker cover he has made his own, even adding a don't drink and drive message to the 10-minute version Friday.

Where Thorogood injects a good deal of rock 'n' roll into his blues stew, Taj Mahal showed off his more traditional side during a slow-rolling 50-minute set that drew on Delta, Chicago and country blues.

The setlist was an abbreviated version of his trio's show at the Burton Cummings Theatre in 2006 with Checkin' up on My Baby, Annie Mae, Fishing Blues and Queen Bee all making it back two years later.

He even told the same anecdotes and used the same lines, most notably his dedication of Blues with a Feelin' to "the ladies that have critical mass in the back."

The talented and good-natured 66-year-old was in fine shape as he switched off between electric and acoustic guitars with the occasional stint on the keyboard; he even managed to engage the crowd in some call and response for the Blues is All Right.

The Blind Boys of Alabama started the night with a collection of joyful spirituals that made believers of the crowd who showed up early.

Making their third appearance in the city since 2005, the seven member vocal ensemble, led by septuagenarian founding member Jimmy Carter, put on an uplifting show, mixing contemporary funky gospel numbers with reworked versions traditional songs like the rousing Free At Last, which moved Carter to get off the stage and wander onto the arena floor guided by his guitarist.

They even managed to find some common ground with the classic rock lovers in the room with their version of Amazing Grace done in the style of House of the Rising Son.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

George Thorogood re-energizes electric blues

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By Bill Locey
Sunday, March 2, 2008

The greatest band from Delaware made a rare stop at the venerable Majestic Ventura Theatre, and the locals loved it. George Thorogood & the Destroyers has been re-energizing the electric blues from those old blues guys and then some, ripping through his nearly three decades of rockers, and leaving the joint hooting and dancing.

Born in Wilmington on New Year's Eve 1950, the former semi-pro second baseman opted for a more lucrative career as a rock star, and seems to hit a homer every time he takes the stage. His breakthrough album, "Move It On Over,'' came out in 1978, and an opening slot on a Rolling Stones tour and a well-publicized 50 gigs in 50 days in 50 states tour back in '81 didn't hurt, either.

Gathered to hear what's advertised as the "World's Greatest Bar Band," the fans, many imitating the world's greatest barflies, were elbow-bending sufficiently Monday night to keep four bartenders and several barmaids busy. This was a sit-down dinner show, and the balcony was fairly packed as well.

The turnaround time between the opener and the headliner was mercifully brief and as the stage was bathed in blue light, the crowd became impatient; some actually stood up. In the balcony, it was whistlehead night as people took turns scaring each other with shrill whistles, hoping that would make George move it on over to the stage. The whistling turned to cheers when Barry McGuire's protest classic, "Eve of Destruction,'' came blasting over the sound system. But since Thorogood is as about as apolitical as Ward Cleaver, the choice of the song made little sense unless the "Eve of Destruction'' alluded to the impending appearance of the Destroyers. Yeah, that must be it. Anyway, the blue backdrop turned into a rainstorm with all sorts of lightning — if there was a bit of automatic weapons fire, it would've been a Ted Nugent intro.

Instead, it was Thorogood with Republican short hair, a headband and giant white guitar and the four Destroyers, who have probably done this a few times before. Right away, the die was cast — a massive guitar solo, the occasional duck walk and cheers from the crowd. While it's true that Thorogood basically re-invented all the classic blues guys like Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker, many of his familiar songs are his own originals, but any George song without a guitar solo would be like a Twinkie without the white stuff.

And the crowd was primed — cheering at all the appropriate moments, such as whenever George mentioned "Southern California'' or "any Destroyer fans?'' or "How does it feel to be 17 years old again?'' or even when the lights came on as bright as the sun, blinding us all temporarily.

The Dedicated knew the words, too, helping out with the chorus of "One bourbon, one scotch, one beer.'' Good job.

No surprises — Thorogood gave them what they wanted — all those rockin' blues songs off all those albums over all those years. The end of destruction featured his two signature tunes, "Bad to the Bone'' and "Move It on Over,'' which was an appropriate cue to take a few steps up the street to Dargan's, where the Corsican Brothers were unleashing their melodic take on the history of power pop.

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What makes a great rockin' blues song? That is a mystery that I have been trying to understand for years. I could give you examples of great, classic, enduring rock/blues tunes like "One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer", "Who do You Love?" or "Move it on Over" without truly understanding what exactly made those songs so great. One man though, who clearly always understood the question is George Thorogood. His answer in 1982 was Bad to the Bone!

The release of Bad to the Bone, the 25th Anniversary Edition on Capital Records is more than a bit nostalgic for me. I am, in every which way a rockin' blues girl of the 80

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B-b-b-b-b-b-bad

Adams, Thorogood should have switched spots

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The difference between Bryan Adams and George Thorogood is a matter of about six beers.

Adams

Red Rocks Review

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By John Wenzel
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 06/20/2007 01:39:19 PM MDT


The beauty of Red Rocks Amphitheatre is the way it stirs both audience and performer, encouraging extended solos, wild dancing and gleeful interaction between the stage and crowd.

Buddy Guy clearly felt the venue's energy Tuesday night, playing a lengthy set that wavered between inspired and rambling. Of course, it was an endearing sort of rambling, as the Chicago blues legend fashioned medleys from artists he has helped inspire (Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix) and standards from the blues canon (mentor Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf).

Guy looked ready for a Hawaiian cruise in a blue floral shirt, straw hat and crisp white pants, strolling leisurely through the higher rows of the venue and imploring his five-piece band to "play it so funky you can smell it." His solos hit like lightning bolts, unpredictable and lacerating with thunder in their wake.

Of course, when he played guitar with his teeth or the occasional drum stick (as he's wont to do), it sounded more like Marty McFly's ill-timed solo at the end of "Back to the Future" or Hendrix at his most explosive and skull-splitting. More than a few people could be seen covering their ears throughout the venue.

Even as the adoring crowd and natural beauty of Red Rocks buoyed Guy, he toyed with the crowd's attention and pushed back headliner George Thorogood later than most. He meant it when he said, "I could play all night," because he nearly did.

By late Tuesday, Thorogood was barely halfway through his set, the crowd's vigor remaining strong for his sharp, toe-tapping blues-rock. But after Guy's set, the shiny saxophone work and by-the-numbers solos of Thorogood's Destroyers felt a bit polished and predictable, even as they maintained the rabid energy Guy had built.

Thorogood reigns over classic rock radio with songs like "Bad to the Bone" and "Who Do You Love" (which were played note-perfect), and it's doubtful the majority of the crowd was looking for surprises. Still, both Thorogood, 57, and Guy, 70, proved they can make as much roiling noise as musicians one-third their age, and do it convincingly.

The Hard Stuff

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No one stretches three chords - heck, make that one chord - more than our man George. For proof look no further than the lead-off, sliding guitar title track (with a bass line that sounds remarkably like that of the classic '70s hit I Dig You, by Brit punk act Cult Hero) by the self-described "world's greatest bar band." And what's a Destroyers album without carefully selected covers by rock and blues pioneers like Fats Domino (Hello Josephine, complete with horns), Chester Burnett (Moving) and John Lee Hooker (the ferocious Huckle up Baby)? A terrific blues album from one of the genre's living legends.

CD Review: The Hard Stuff George Thorogood

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June 24, 2006
Richard Marcus

It was back in the late seventies, when you could still hear a variety of music on F.M. radio, that one night as I was getting ready for bed I heard this voice coming out of my radio that sounded like it had been around for a thousand years. I was really surprised to hear that the song "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" was from the first album of a guy named George Thorogood.

A year later I was sitting in front row seats in a small concert hall watching him lead his Destroyers through a set of high-powered blues originals and standards. He was like a ball of energy duck-walking across the stage while playing some incredible slide guitar. He was still in the public eye when he released his second collection of songs, including a brilliant cover of Hank Williams' "Move It On Over", but after that he seemed to fade out of my view.

You'd occasionally hear "Move It On Over" or "One Bourbon

Another triumph for a true-blue survivor on tour for life

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Wednesday May 31st 2006

He might not be in today's hit parade, but George Thorogood is a bona fide rock veteran. He remains the only rock musician to have played all 50 states of America within 50 days, a feat that is almost logistically impossible.

This touring thoroughbred has been on the road since the release of his first album 'Better than the Rest' back in 1974. Thorogood and his cohorts, the Destroyers, clearly have a fervent Irish fan base who lap up every second of his raw and rugged take on bluesy rock 'n' roll.

He looks weathered but remarkably fit and healthy for a man of his years, belting out sweaty blues standards for a full two hours and 10 minutes.

Thorogood's most famous song was made famous by John Lee Hooker, the legendary 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer', which is probably the most famous blues song ever written about booze. Add that to the usual 'my baby left me this morning' theme and you've virtually got an entire genre. Obviously, this was on the setlist alongside a slew of celebrated classics.

The last time George brought his six-string to these shores was for an all-seated show in this same venue.

This appearance worked much better, allowing a boisterous crowd to join in with his riff-laden jam and holler while boogying in the aisles. The funniest part of the show was when he said he wanted to play a song for the "more sophisticated rock fan" and proceeded to play another golden oldie, 'Cut Your Hair and Get a Real Job'.

Judging by the reaction, there appeared to be a lot of rebellious teens trapped inside older bodies. Contemporary rock appears to value freshly-cut hype over true-blue survivors.

Whenever the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs aren't able to get people to cross the street to see them live, George Thorogood will probably still be packing them in on his never-ending tour.

EAMON SWEENEY

George Thorogood & the Destroyers, "The Hard Stuff"

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Music Review by Paul Schultz
Published: June 2, 2006

You always know what you're going to get with a George Thorogood record, and that's a good thing. For over thirty years, he and his band, the Destroyers, have been plying their brand of blues-rock to anyone and everyone that will listen, and they do indeed deliver the hard stuff on their latest release. Early musical influences are represented with a generous seasoning of blues covers and I, for one, thank Thorogood for digging them out of obscurity for a new generation of listeners.

A Thorogood original (written with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer and performer, Tom Hambridge, and Destroyer guitarist Jim Suhler) starts things off in enthusiastic fashion with the hard-hitting title track, opening with a riff similar to Dwight Yoakam's "Fast as You", only with the volume cranked up to 11. Thorogood's signature slide guitar soon makes its presence heard, and features prominently throughout the record, particularly on "Love Doctor", "Taking Care of Business" and culminating frenetically in the finale. His take on Howlin' Wolf's "Moving" displays some tasty guitar work, but this is probably the most glaring example of a song that just can't be believably sung by a white guy. He does better on Fats Domino's "Hello Josephine", accompanied by Buddy Leach's saxophone playing, which is also spotlighted on the Jimmy Reed ballad "Little Rain".

"Now, here's a song with a message" Thorogood announces in the repetitive "I Didn't Know" that cleverly brings the music completely to a halt several times, as if the silence will help him think about why he doesn't know what he doesn't know. Always capable of finding a goofy song and making it work (who else could pull off "Get A Haircut"?), the boys present Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back My Wig" with such speedy precision that you don't bother to ponder the "give me back my wig, honey let your head go bald" lyrics.

At about the midway point, the instrumental "Cool It" epitomizes a group effort with guitar, sax, and bass soloing. The blue-collar rocking highlight is "Any Town USA" which has Thorogood engaging in plenty of name dropping as he rattles off landmarks in cities such as Cleveland (Jacob's Field, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), Chicago (Checkboard Lounge, Wrigley Field) and Detroit, and also mentioning "Big Ten Michigan". The driving "Rock Party" finds Thorogood name dropping his own music catalog: "I feel like shaking up somebody's home/I'm sick and tired of drinkin' alone/I'm gonna show ya that I'm bad to the bone at the rock party tonight". It's not all one speed, however, as Thorogood dials things down for Bob Dylan's "Drifter's Escape" and resonates on a biscuit cone guitar for Johnny Shines' "Dynaflow Blues".

Sounding like a manic "Spirit in the Sky", the album concludes on a blistering high note, with the John Lee Hooker classic boogie "Huckle Up Baby". Thorogood growls his familiar line "you know what I'm talkin' about" before sending this song into the musical stratosphere with an inspired slide guitar performance. For a guy in his mid-fifties, Thorogood can still bring the hard stuff as well as he ever has. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the party album of the summer.

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