At nine o’clock the house lights dimmed and an old familiar song came over the speakers. It was Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, and the crowd of about a thousand sang along. This was a fitting prelude to the sonic destruction that George Thorogood was about to unleash. George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, or just Destroyers, or GT&D are a five-piece band that plays iconic hits. Party anthems. Songs meant to be heard live. They opened with Rock Party (what else) then proceeded to bludgeon the theater with ninety minutes of their “Forty Years Strong Tour”.
With sixteen studio albums (two platinum, six gold) to draw from, their set list of hits went like this :
Rock Party, Who Do You Love?, The Fixer, Night Time, I Drink Alone, One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer, Cocaine Blues, Get A Haircut, Gear Jammer, Move It On Over, $20 Gig, Bad To The Bone, Madison Blues.
After four decades George Thorogood enjoys playing live. At least that’s the way it looked at Center Stage Atlanta in front of this energetic crowd of all ages. In fact, I remember an interview where GT said his job description was “Live Rock Performer”. Aptly stated. This coming from a man who gave up being a semi-pro baseball player (not a bad gig either) to go into the music biz. If there’s a criticism, it is that George plays covers. His most recognizable works are covers, but he does them well and he does them his way. No one here seemed to care. George worked the stage and the crowd like his guitar. I was surprised that GT&D had such elaborate lighting behind them. The lighting did enhance the show but was not so over-the-top that it detracted.
There was a very forgettable opening act called Fifth on the Floor – a band from Kentucky who basically delayed the main event about an hour. They were Skynyrd meets the Outlaws by way of the Georgia Satellites. They would be a satisfactory bar band … if this was Jacksonville … and it was 1973. Speaking of opening acts, GT&D toured with the Rolling Stones on their 1981 U.S. Tour as their warm up.
The Center Stage was a good venue for Thorogood’s bad-to-the-bone kind of performance from a band that still embraces the Blues tradition of Rock. I’m glad I was here to witness this, for I believe these musicians are dinosaurs. When I heard a young Kenny Wayne Shepherd at Music Midtown in 2000 I was hoping that he heralded a new wave of Blues Rock guitarists, but I was wrong. If they’re out there, please let me know.
The people who came to the Center Stage Atlanta got what they paid for – piledriving slide guitar and gritty boys-night-out songs. Until the next concert, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.