For the last 45 years, George Thorogood and the Destroyers have brought their unique blend of blues and rock to concert halls across America. Last Friday night was no exception, the band packed Route 66 from the front to the back with eager fans ready to hang onto every note.
The murmur of the growing crowd became louder as the clock approached 8 p.m., with anticipation hanging in the air. As the lights dimmed the murmur exploded into a raucous applause as each member of the band took the stage. Jeff Simon took his seat behind the drums, as bassist Bill Blough, guitarist Jim Suhler and saxophonist Buddy Leach spread out across the stage. George Thorogood took his place as the center piece, the spotlight gleaming down on him as the first song began.
The tech was perfect, each instrument distinct and clear through the speakers as Thorogood ran around the stage, acting half of his age. Thorogood’s voice hasn’t aged, his distinguished sound was exactly the same as day one, delivering each line with his rough, gritty voice. Thorogood’s guitar playing was full of passion and groove, his quick fingers worked the gorgeous fretboards of his signature Gibsons, the black and white frames gleaming in the spotlight.
Improvisation and expression were prevalent throughout the hour and a half show, each member of the band grabbed the focus for a section of the song to add their personality. Of course, Thorogood held the focus for the longest amount of time, gyrating his body as he dreamed up new progressions on his guitar.
New licks were not the only ad-libbed portion of the show, Thorogood sprinkled in references of Albuquerque and New Mexico into his lyrics. If a lyric referenced a city or state, the name would always be replaced with one of the two, which never failed to excite the crowd.
The setlist of the show was phenomenal, a mixture of the hits and the lesser known tracks. “Who Do You Love?” was the second song, Thorogood moved about the stage and energized the audience. “I Drink Alone” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” were played back-to-back in the middle of the set, allowing the majority elder crowd no rest from standing.
“Get a Haircut” was played late into the set, laughter and chimes of agreement echoed throughout the venue. The show was headlined by the song “Born to be Bad," everyone chanted along with the chorus and expended the last of their energy for the end of the show.
The chemistry and friendship built by the band through the years was quite apparent at the end of the show. Thorogood partook in repartee with his bandmates by saying how lucky everyone in attendance was, for The Destroyers were released by their parole officer for 24 hours. At the end of the show they all bowed, soaking up the thundering applause from the crowd, the congregation giving them a standing ovation.
Looking at each of the faces of the attendees leaving the venue, there wasn’t a frown in sight. Everyone was smiling, looking incredibly content with the show that just finished. George Thorogood will always be welcome back to Route 66, selling thousands of tickets and bringing together thousands of fans.
Cole Space is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @cole_space.