Last Night: George Thorogood and the Destroyers

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Last Night: George Thorogood and the Destroyers at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater

Friday, March 21, 2008

Better Than: A refreshing pinch between the cheek and gum.

The Review: George Thorogood got Bad to the Bone on Good Friday at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. It’s possible he knew of the day’s religious significance, but nothing short of a hurricane could make GT alter his winning—and utterly predictable-- formula of Rock & Raunch. I expected a bluesy rock show with plenty of smack talk, maximum testosterone, and minimum introspection.

Of course, GT delivered exactly that.

Given his enthusiasm, you wouldn’t know that the 2900 seat venue was only about half full. And, aside from his jowly looks, you wouldn’t know that Thorogood is somewhere in his late 50s. Stuck in a refreshing state of permanent adolescence, generally impervious to political correctness, and content to play for ten people or ten thousand, George Thorogood and the Destroyers truly deserve being called “The World’s Greatest Bar Band.”

Considering the influx of spring breakers descending on South Florida, I expected the show might be full of frat boys in Hooter’s gear. But alas, the crowd was decidedly middle age. The early crowd looked unexpectedly normal, but then the Harley people, Thorogood’s natural demographic, dribbled in and the fun started.

My friend Paul, a die-hard Grateful Dead fan, joined me at the show. Pointing to a woman all in black with poofed up, peroxide blond 80s hair and a face that could only have been perfected by thousands of kilowatt hours in a tanning booth, Paul wondered if the woman might be Tawny Kitaen, the B-list 80s star of such movies as “Bachelor Party.” And that’s what’s great about the Thorogood scene: his fans are as impervious to the whims of fashion as he is.

After a serviceable set from an opening act called “Monkey Beat,” Thorogood took the stage about 9:15. He walked on stage like a peacock, arms spread wide to soak up the adulation, just like a pro-wrestler getting ready for a Texas cage match. I couldn’t help but notice that GT’s bass player, Bill Blough, has a close resemblance to wrestling impresario Vince McMahon. Go figure.

GT pulled out the same chestnuts he pulls out at every show. When the band grooved into Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” at the start of the show, GT predictably shouted “And away we go!” Since it was Friday night, he welcomed us to “the Friday night jamboree and hootenanny,” a line he cribbed decades ago from John Lee Hooker, who probably cribbed it from someone else. A little later, he invited all the divorced women—or those about to be divorced—to come out to the dance floor “and grind it for Georgie.” Oh, and he promised to do his best to get arrested before the evening was through.

“You know,” GT confessed at one point, “sometimes I’m so full of shit, even I can’t believe it.” I can’t believe it, either, but that’s what makes Thorogood great.

The beat was steady, the music was tight, and the energy never let up. GT tore through 14 songs, including classics like “Night Time,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move it on Over,” and, of course, “Bad to the Bone.” He closed the show with a raucous version of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA.”

Watching GT sing “I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the USA,” I got the sense that he is, in fact, so glad he’s livin’ in the USA. Where else could a cut up like George Thorogood have a profitable and celebrated 30 year career and still keep going strong?

Personal Bias: I only saw one bowling jacket in the crowd. It would have been nice to see more.

Random Detail: There was a little boy, about 8 years old, playing maracas on the Thorogood song “Get a Haircut.” Who was this kid? Thorogood introduced him only as “The future of Rock and Roll.”

By the Way: George Thorogood doesn’t get enough credit for keeping classic blues and early rock alive.

-- Bill Frogameni

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