George Thorogood & The Destroyers took their ‘Rock Party’ tour to Lethbridge, Alberta over the weekend on May 5, 2018 and proved that even old guys can still kick a lot of ass. As silly as seeing an elder Thorogood on stage wagging his tongue at the crowd while dancing around like Mick Jagger can seem, there’s also something genuine and awesome about seeing first-hand that you’re never too old for rock n’ roll.
I grew up in a relatively small town – Wainwright, Alberta. We had what could only be described as ‘biker bars’. In these little, hole-in-the-wall places, there’d be a jukebox and every single of of these bars had at least one George Thorogood & The Destroyers record in it. I don’t think there was ever a time when I WOULDN’T at least pick ‘One Bourban, One Scotch & One Beer’ while playing pool with my buddies. Not only is it an essential jam, but you got your money’s worth considering the studio track clocked in over eight minutes long. If you saw George Thorogood & The Destroyers live in Lethbridge over the weekend — chances are you got your damn money’s worth. They played the hits – all of em – and these guys can still shred with some of the greatest blues rock on the planet.
Opening act the Damon Fowler band was truly impressive. I hope someone bought a CD or two from them, because Fowler had to plead with the crowd to buy some so they didn’t have to take them back over the border when the tour wrapped. I don’t buy albums, but I did add their music to my Spotify (hey i have a premium account – don’t judge me). Fowler was incredibly talented as a guitarist, going toe to toe with the experience of the headliners. Some of Fowler’s jams were hypnotic and although I’m not much of a blues fan, seeing this kind of music live is an eye-opening experience. From the complexity of the musicianship to the mesmerising song arrangements, Fowler made me a fan and really set the appropriate tone for the rest of the evening.
We’ve all seen rock legends age like a bitter tasting wine (cough cough, Bob Dylan sucks so much, cough), but Thorogood can still sing… He sounds damn good after over forty years performing live. He has a little bit more growl in his voice, but it’s just the right amount and I’m kind of shocked to be honest that he did sound so great because I’ve never seen him live before, but I’m ALWAYS listening to his songs – at least once a week my Spotify graces me with ‘Who Do You Love’. Which they played live, obviously, and it was fantastic. Thorogood shakes that old ass up there and struts around like he’s Mick Jagger with the sleazy wobbly legs and he even sticks his damn tongue out and wags it around at the crowd like he’s sexing the muggy Lethbridge air with his face. Was it creepy? Sure – but it wasn’t so creepy seeing Thorogood act like am ancient sexually charged dynamo, than it was when I saw guys like Motley Crue or KISS do the same thing a couple years ago.
Thorogood may look like everybody’s grandfather and I mean – he has a hint of “everybody’s grandfather, or great uncle that we don’t invite to weddings” if that person was genetically spliced with Willem Dafoe’s DNA and then given the power to shred some of the craziest guitar solos of all time. I have seen some incredible guitarists live, including Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrel, you name it — and Thorogood is just as strong, if not better than all of them. That’s the power of live blues rock – it can be a little long-winded but you can’t deny the extreme difficulty level this guy is nailing when it comes to the hundreds of solos he played over the course of an hour. An hour that included glorious renditions of ‘I Drink Alone’, ‘One Bourbon’, ‘Who Do You Love’, ‘Bad to The Bone’, ‘Get a Haircut’ and so many more. This was a greatest hits show and because it was the first time Thorogood had ever played Lethbridge, he put it all on the table with a promise at the start of the show to “do everything in my power to get arrested tonight”.
During one of several jam sessions while performing ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch & One Beer’, Thorogood repeatedly asked the audience to not drink and drive after the show. He said it a bunch of times, almost to the point of discomfort. You could literally hear the audience clenching up, not sure to laugh, be serious, or what… Only for Thorogood to hit everybody with a wild ass punchline of “I’m so full of shit even I don’t believe everything I’m saying”. WHAT? haha. OK George, you made us all uneasy by making a public service announcement, only to drop the bomb of, “who cares – DRINK AND DRIVE AND DRINK I GIVE NO SHIT!” ROCK N’ ROLL BABY YAH! Actually, I’m not so sure that was what he even meant. His on-stage banter felt both rehearsed at times and bizarre — but always entertaining. He made so many references to stealing your best-friend’s girlfriend that I’m not sure it’s safe to actually bring your girlfriends or wives to the show — either George will take them or he will command various audience members to steal your chick. It’s a lose-lose for everybody who has a significant other.