George Thorogood and The Destroyers – St David’s Hall 26th June 2013
Opening the proceedings to an excited and enthusiastic audience was Big Boy Bloater; this he partly did with an energetic set of self-penned numbers, he did engage with the audience but what he failed to do was crank up the energy. I also felt that Big Boy Bloater missed a self-marketing opportunity to build a new fan base from the audience waiting to hear George Thorogood & The Destroyers. On the plus side he does have a big personality and this came to the fore when introducing some of the songs that he felt passionate about like ‘Insanely Happy’ where the true depth of skills in the band were showcased.
Then after a short break the packed auditorium was electric with anticipation and excitement and then the show began with a dramatic entrance and it didn’t take long for the crowd to be bopping along to some great lead breaks and licks, this was musicianship of the highest order. George is a real showman with a great mix of self-penned and cleverly re-arranged blues classics with some heavy dollops of pure class Rock ‘n’ Roll! The lighting effects were very dramatic with the video images of fire, flames matching the beat and heat of the music it was going to be a hot and steamy event at St David’s Hall tonight. The unique take of some ‘Chess Records‘ classics was impressive; this is how these numbers should be covered bringing dynamic live experience to well-known blues numbers. This is blues that is not staid and stuck in a rut but free-flowing rhythm that makes you want to get up and dance!
The use of the backdrop videos were skilful and relevant at times you could have been at an avant-garde film festival! But this was a show with blues and George Thorogood taking centre stage nothing was going to silence him tonight..wow! George introduced the band with a video backdrop of each member of The Destroyers of course, this collective wealth of talent are: Jeff Simon (Drums) aka The Timekeeper; Billy Blough (Bass) aka Dr Martini; Jim Suhler (Guitar) aka Tex and Buddy Leach (Sax) aka Cincinnati Kid. Lonesome George delivered a stellar performance of his acclaimed number ‘I Drink Alone‘, also in the set list was John Lee Hooker’s, ‘House Rent Blues‘ a delicious version with George on his own on the stage, what set the number alive: firstly it was not a dull recital of the lines secondly, by dynamic interactive playtime with enthusiastic audience participation, making you want to head straight to the bar. The band rejoined the party with the clever chorus video back drop in perfect timing between the music and video as the words ‘one bourbon (some interesting bourbon brands on display), one scotch and one beer; and finally the caption Keep Calm & Drink Beer all this excitement made the audience whoop and yell with pure delight. George Thorogood’s selection of songs gave a variance in tempo and mood as he slid through the widest of blues genre including some Johnny Cash with ‘Early One Morning‘. As with many guitarists there was the change of guitars, tonight this worked so well as each had a different sound enabling George to play slide and in his words bring some sophistication to the proceedings with is stunning white Gibson guitar as he delivered his biggest hit ‘Bad to the Bone’. George the powerhouse and the centre, right and left of the stage, left the stage giving Jim Suhler, a superb guitarist in his own right, the opportunity to come forward and play a quite magnificent solo, reminding me of what an act he had been at Carlisle Blues Festival 2012 with his own band ‘the Monkey Beats’; then with a cheer George was back on stage sans guitar and delivered a great version of Howlin’ Wolf’s, ‘Tail Dragger ‘with a heavy bass/rhythm line bringing a little funk into the proceedings.
This was a truly fun evening, great atmosphere, great live blues music that was centre stage of the visual and audio show at all times proving that the blues is fun and shouldn’t ever be stagnant regurgitation of the same old product. St David’s Hall was the ideal setting for George’s first visit to Wales and we are all hoping he will come back very soon.
LizAiken Photography has more photographs click here