Opener Walter Trout Comes Roaring Back
By CRAIG HAMMONS
Everybody was feeling alright at the rock party tonight.
Blues brother George Thorogood and his band The Destroyers are on the road celebrating 45 years of rock and blues. They are a non-stop barn storming touring machine. George would soon show us all that at 68 years old he’s still “bad to the bone.”
The show got off to a rousing start with a hometown boy Walter Trout. I used to see Walter at Perqs in Huntington Beach in the 1990s. I had a feeling back then that this cat was going to be an international blues superstar.
Walter Trout earned his blues degree from playing with everyone from John Lee Hooker to John Mayall. Walter’s career had many highs but in 2013 he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. He needed a liver transplant within 90 days. He says he is only here today because someone donated their liver. He had to start all over learning to speak, walk and most important play the guitar. After 8 months in bed he got up and played 8 to 10 hours a day to get his chops back and is now once again a classy player with such intense ripping that he blew the moon out of the sky tonight
Walter is back and that’s a natural fact.Opening strong with a Bo Diddley cover of “I Can Tell,” he lets his fingers fly over the neck of the guitar like they were fuel injected and on fire. The next song “Me, My Guitar and the Blues” is a lost blues gem by Jimmy Dawkins off his fine new album Survivor Blues.
Besides Walter’s playing, he has a stellar voice for the blues. It can be rough and sweet at the same time. Walter then steps up to the mic after a roaring round of applause and seems totally taken back by the adoration he is receiving from his home town crowd. He says “its time to rock” and kicked into “Outta Control,” a rocking blues number that had everyone putting their beers down and their hands in the air.
The set was flying by and demanded your complete attention. The band is a well-oiled blues machine and they all showed off their chops on the smokin tune “Gonna Hurt Like Hell” a song he recorded with Kenny Wayne Shepard. Walter then told the story of the near death experience he had when he was ill, it’s a song called “Cold, Cold Ground.” Walter was happy to have a second chance on life. The crowd let him know that they were happy to see him doing what he does best by playing the blues that you can feel deep inside.
After a short intermission the bad boy from Delaware, George Thorogood, was ready to take the stage with his band The Destroyers. An old 1960s song by Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction,” had been playing over the P.A. When it ended, George came walking out like a prize fighter walking into the ring. He did not waste any time, he bowed to the audience and said “How sweet it is,” before ripping right into “Rock Party.”
Everyone was dancin’ and everyone was feeling all right. He was so fired up after the first song he said “Somebody stop me” and went right into “Who Do You Love.” It was time to boogie people, this mean old dog has moved in.
Not missing a beat, they did a killer version of an old Sonics song called “Shot Down.” This is 100 percent earth-shaking, soul-saving, bad ass rock and blues, no bullshit. George works the stage like he owns it. He said “Our probation officer gave us the weekend off, so its time to party” and that we did.
After a tight and revved up version of the Strangeloves’ song “Night Time,” it was time to go to the bar. Before he started, he made a public service announcement: “Do not drink and drive and if you do, have your buddy drive you home or your buddy’s girlfriend drive you home.”
The opening riff to “I Drink Alone” rang out and the beers were lifted high as George played some killer slide guitar as we all sang along. These cats are high-energy boogie blues band that knows what we want: Songs about fun, partying, ladies and being cool. Next was the hangover from hell song “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” where George is still singing about drinking and not being able to pay his rent. As he once said “Rock and roll never sleeps, it just passes out.”
With the intensity at an all-time high, George was going to show us what a great slide guitar player he is by flooring it on “Gear Jammer.” George loves this music and once said that it’s “been around since before the beard of Moses.”
He’s a lifelong teenager and let it all out on “Bad to the Bone.” This jukebox classic was here to tell ya honey that George is B-b-b-b-b-bad to the bone.
After a crushing finale, George and The Destroyers left the stage sweating and feeling good. It isn’t rock and roll if you don’t sweat. Before we could blink, George came running back out to perform “Twenty Dollar Gig” and was engaging the audience with his schoolboy charm. But it was time to take this one out with his classic version of Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over.” The big bad dog moved in tonight to rock us and free our minds of all our worries and troubles this evening.
As the band left the stage, the P.A. was playing the “Star Spangled Banner” and George all alone came running back out. A roadie came out and put a cape over him and walked him off the stage and just as they got to the side of the stage, George came running back out and the crowd went wild.
George feeds the best of everything into his live performance. He is full of charisma and proves you are never too old to rock and roll. He expresses nothing but a good time and that’s exactly what we got.
George Thorogood Gear Jammer – Video by Craig Hammons