DVD Review: George Thorogood & The Destroyers - Live At Montreux 2013

The legendary blues-rock band makes their first Montreux appearance.
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Throughout his over three-decade career, George Thorogood has made a name for himself taking the blues of Howlin' Wolf and Bo Diddley, along with the rock 'n' roll of Chuck Berry and updating it through his own, high-intensity filter. Known for his slide work and open guitar tunings, Thorogood, along with his killer band, The Destroyers, has had success both on radio, as well as on the concert stage, even performing at Live Aid. While he would seem a natural to have performed at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, which has long celebrated the blues as well as jazz, he and the Destroyers made their first appearance at Montreux in July 2013. The show was filmed, and makes up the DVD, George Thorogood & The Destroyers -- Live At Montreux 2013.

The show opens with "Rock Party," from 2006's The Hard Stuff. The band is at full throttle from the outset, delivering a hard-charging rocker reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis' best work and one that quotes Thorogood's own "Bad To The Bone" and "I Drink Alone." Rhythm/lead guitarist, Jim Suhler, offers a fine, Chuck Berry-inspired solo while Buddy Leach contributes some excellent sax work of his own. Thorogood takes the lead himself toward the end of this fine opener.

"Who Do You Love?," The first of many classic Thorogood songs, follows and the band doesn't disappoint. It's a heavy version, played a little faster that its studio counterpart, with almost tribal drumming from Jeff Simon in parts. Thorogood gives a gritty vocal, while a sax break from Leach adds a nice touch to the song. The band breaks down into a strong groove, showing off their chops. These guys have played together for a long time and it is evident during this concert.

Much like The Rolling Stones named a song after Chess Studio's famous Chicago address, Thorogood named his latest album, 2120 South Michigan Ave. as such. "Help Me" comes from this release and it finds the band locked into a slinky groove with fine soloing from Suhler. While the show is mostly blues and rock 'n' roll based, Thorogood offers a change of pace on the country-tinged radio favorite, "Get A Haircut." The band is clearly having fun on the song, its message not lost on many musicians. Thorogood takes his share of leads, but he is not scared to share the spotlight with Suhler, a fine guitarist in his own right.

Thorogood plays a couple of his famed drinking songs in tandem, pairing "I Drink Alone" with "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." The former is a down and dirty version, with strong leads from Suhler and great interplay between him, Thorogood and Leach while the latter opens with a sly grin from Thorogood as he slaps at the guitar, almost like a bass, in the song's signature open G tuning.

"Bad To The Bone" is, of course, Thorogood's best-known song and the live version doesn't disappoint. Thorogood gives a killer slide solo, torturing his instrument as images from the song's classic video play on the screen. The show ends with an inspired performance of "Madison Blues." The band leaves it all on the stage in this strong closer.

The video is in Widescreen 16x9 and is well filmed. Audio options include DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Surround 5.1 and Dolby Stereo. An interview with Thorogood is included as a bonus feature.

After more than three decades, George Thorogood & The Destroyers still have it. Their hard-edged takes on the blues, along with their own original numbers continue to resonate to this day. This may have been their first Montreux performance, but it would be very surprising if it were their last.