George Thorogood: Thoroughly good blues at Tulalip

George Thorogood owes his career to bluesmen such as Buddy Guy, so it was fitting the two men shared a stage Thursday night, together drawing more than 2,300 people to the Tulalip Amphitheatre.

Their show was a study in contrasts.

Guy has accolades, including 2005 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Thorogood has platinum albums. Guy used his guitar like a scalpel, exacting, precise. Thorogood’s was more of an ax. Guy wore white. Thorogood, black.

And yes, Guy was the opener, Thorogood the headliner, with clear reason.

The crowd, made up mainly of middle-aged fans, was sporting George Thorogood and the Destroyers T-shirts. When the group took the stage just before 9 p.m., the audience went to its feet.

“I promise to each and every one of you,” Thorogood called, “that I will do everything in my power to get arrested tonight. Someone’s got to go to jail for rock ‘n’ roll. It might as well be me.”

Now seriously, Thorogood was doing very little that would get him arrested. He’s a ham, a gloriously entertaining ham. He strutted like Mick Jagger, cradled his guitar like Chuck Berry, and baited the audience with phrases like, “God bless the working class.”

Thorogood delivers a style of rock steeped in the blues. Some of his biggest hits, including Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” are souped-up covers, perfect for the jukebox. Others, like his own song, “Bad to the Bone,” are simple crowd pleasers.

They were a solid fit for the outdoor amphitheater. Every time the crowd heard a lick they knew, they went onto their feet, drinks in hand, whooping. Thorogood, 57, bills his band as being the “world’s greatest bar band.” It seems that carries over to beer gardens.

Despite the headliner status, Thorogood had a hard act to follow.

Guy, 71, took the stage at 7 p.m., wearing white overalls and a white cap.

At first, the audience seemed unimpressed. He covered “Fever” with quiet anxiety. They shrugged, got some beer. He played “Skin Deep,” a tuneful new track. Heads started to turn. The applause grew louder.

Then he walked off the stage and into the crowd. Strolling and posing, he ripped out solos. He meandered through nearly ever section of the amphitheater, pausing here, sitting in an open seat there. Dozens of people whipped out cell phones and snapped pictures.

He reclaimed the stage to cheers.

“Aw, shucks,” he said. “I wish I could play all night.”

And as he grinned broadly into the setting sun, hundreds grinned back.

Reporter Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455 or

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