Aftermath: George Thorogood's Raucous Rock Party Destroys House of Blues
Photos by Groovehouse
Since we have long since moved into a digital age of music journalism, Aftermath now takes notes on his cellphone or loads his thoughts onto Twitter. Sifting through our pecking from last night's George Thorogood and the Destroyers show at the House of Blues, we noticed that we described the band leader as "pretty much just Mick Jagger with a guitar," along with notes on a few certain aspects of the older female crowd. We could also tell we were having the time of our damned lives. It's been a long time since we danced at a show, or we know most every word to each song and could play air guitar next to a guy old enough to be our grandfather, but that's what George Thorogood and his Delaware convicts did last night. There is something to be said about a raunchy saxophone solo and a blues-picking lead singer leering at the crowd doing the duck walk. From song one, "Rock Party," Thorogood held the audience captivated for nearly an hour and a half of riffs, teeth and come-ons. He also had one of the biggest lighting and video rigs we had ever seen, at least for an older blues-rock cat. We didn't expect for him to have eight huge spotlights and two LED screens to his left and right. When we saw that walking into the HOB, our heart twitched.
We have been studying rock and roll for the better part of two decades now, and we know that our nose for influences is still evolving, but we heard swatches of the Stooges, the Stones, and every single bluesman that we have been fortifying ourselves with since we could walk and talk. But Thorogood puts all of that in a blender and serves it with his toothy grin and it fits. He wasted no time sacrificing Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" to us the second song out. Midway through the bartenders were working hard for their money, as Thorogood and his two original Destroyers and relatively new saxophonist and rhythm guitarist whipped out "Night Time," "I Drink Alone" and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" in quick succession. Say what you will about his liberal use of the blues of the genre's monoliths, but he revs them up and turns them into the hulking demons that they were always meant to be. You can't tell us that if technology and social mores weren't in place that people like slide king Elmore James and Robert Johnson wouldn't have blown juke joints and beer halls to bits with volume and rumble. That's pure sex, man. It's noise, grinding and sweat.
Thorogood and the Destroyers is as good a gateway drug as any to study the blues. Any of his '70s albums are troves of influence and the art of the riff. He has never acted with any pretense or solemnity about what he does, which is refreshing as hell to anyone bored with younger blues guys taking themselves too seriously. To hear something as commonplace as 1982's "Bad to the Bone" in a concert hall with 1,000 deranged middle-aged blues rockers will jar something loose in you. The song makes people innately giddy, even if by now to most irony-ridden folks it has since passed into laughable hamminess. Without Thorogood, we would have no Black Keys, very little '80s outlaw country, and the snakeskin headband industry would be in disarray. Meanwhile in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be wasting dudes while listening to the J Geils Band instead of "Bad To The Bone". That's a shitty world, if you ask Aftermath. Thorogood isn't ironic, he's iconic. For more photos from the show, see our slideshow here.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.