by Brian Hanshaw
It was a happening night in Glenside on Thursday, March 14th 2013. The streets were crowded and the bars were packed. The Keswick Theater was crawling with old biker guys, divorced women and even a few teenagers there with their parents. They all came out to see the original Bad Boy of southern blues/rock, George Thorogood, accompanied by the original members of his crew, The Destroyers. The band consists of Jeff Simon on drums, Billy Blough on bass guitar, Jim Suhler on rhythm guitar and Buddy Leach on the saxophone. The group formed in the late 1970s and have been performing for about 37 years. Their style can best be described as southern rock or blues rock, a little bit of country “twang” with a lot of edge. The guitars are heavily distorted and the use of slides on the guitar strings is what gives it that old southern, bluesy sound.
The Keswick Theater is a slightly smaller venue then most other concert halls, but has much historical significance. It was originally built in 1928 and it was re-opened in 1988 and has been around for 85 years. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1983, and has hosted various events and has booked many well-known famous performers.
The show opened up with a band known as the Slide Brothers, featuring Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent. These guys were very creative and genuine in their performance, they really got the house going with their skills on the slide guitar and use of pedals and effects. The crowd was really into their music and their performance, and I thought it was neat how they played around with the steel guitar and slides. The bass player was also very good and added that element of authenticity to their blues style. The singer’s voice was very soulful and almost church-like, which really lead people to get into the music and nod their heads to the rhythm.
After waiting in long lines for concessions and restrooms, the intermission was over and then came the moment the crowd had been waiting for. It was time for George Thorogood to take the stage. The seats were now packed to the aisles and everyone was eager to see when the band would come on. The lights dimmed and the announcer introduced George and the band. The crowd howled and cheered. George came on stage, dressed in all black wearing a scarf tied around his head. He really embraces his on-stage character persona, shaking and shimmying for the audience, motioning and gyrating around on stage and in between sets, he would frequently joke and flirt with the ladies. The acoustics in the auditorium were pretty decent, and the lights and special effects on stage were done pretty effectively.
One of my favorite parts of the show was when George performed “Cocaine Blues” and he dedicated the song to Johnny Cash. They covered all of their most popular hits, including “Who Do You Love?”, “I Drink Alone”, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “Bad to the Bone”. I also enjoyed “Move It On Over”, “Get A Haircut”, and “House of Blue Lights”. I was really into the way the band rocked out on stage. The tempos were upbeat and the saxophone solos were incredible. Fans were on their feet, applauding, dancing in the aisles and enjoying the music. At the end of the last set, people were all starting to leave, and then as I heard cheering, I turned around to see George Thorogood waving and bowing to the audience. He had an American flag scarf tied around his head and the “Star – Spangled Banner” was playing in the background. I guess that goes to show that rock & roll still lives on in the U.S.A.