"I first played in Montreal in 1978," said George Thorogood from the stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
"40 years!" he shouted, and the full house in the big hall, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, cheered. By the looks of them, so many of them in the audience were fans for all the years. And maybe not as energetic as they were back then, they were dancing in the seats.
"This is all I can do," said Thorogood at the press conference that afternoon. He talked about being inspired as a kid, hearing blues greats like John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. He knew immediately that playing this music is what he wanted to do. He's been fronting The Destroyers through the years, though his newest album, "Party of One," is all solos. Not that he'd ever consider playing a solo concert. "I'm not Taj Mahal or John Hammond Jr. I can't play a whole show alone," he said. "My hands get tired!"
Early on, he said he looked for the lesser-known songs of the greats, and several of his "covers" became signatures for Thorogrood. Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." Thorogood's own song "Bad to the Bone" became his own greatest hit.
Thorogood's Destroyers are only five cats but the concert volume was louder than a battery of howitzers. And the light show was a blinding flashback to when rock became a multi-media techno-spectacle, including a barrage of strobe lights shooting multi-colored beams from what looked like futuristic sculptures.
"Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job" was a highlight. "Bad to the Bone" was the climax. Andre Menard, the festival's artistic director, came on mid-show to present the festival's honor for a blues artist, the B.B. King Award, "to George Thorogood, the greatest blues-rocker in the world!"