"It sounds like you've heard this story before!"
Have we ever. George Thorogood made that crack last night at the Minnesota Zoo midway through "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," after the sellout crowd shouted out the line, "And out the door I went." It was just one of the many moments in the 90-minute set that reminded me of those hot dogs at Super America that you know have been sitting on the rotating heaters for far too long: They're stale, unhealthy and a little crusty, but they still taste pretty damn delicious.
Making his second zoo appearance with his Destroyers in as many years -- "This could be the start of a long and beautiful friendship," he said of the venue -- ol' George played even more of his old-standby hits than the previous year. And by "hits," of course, I mean songs he lifted from other musicians too dead to complain about him copying them, including "One Bourbon," "Who Do You Love?" and "Move It On Over."
To Thorogood's credit, two of the better performances in the set were new numbers -- "new" by his terms, anyway. They came off his latest album, "2120 South Michigan Avenue," a tribute to Chess Records: "Hi-Heel Sneakers," which Tommy Tucker (and Chuck Berry) recorded for Chess, and Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son." He also nicely spiked the show with a rapidfire version of Johnny Cash's "Cocaine Blues." And despite his faux meltdown at the end, he actually looked and sounded as fit at 61 as he did at 38. I wound up admiring how unchanged he was, not just physically but musically. There were no bad, fluffy, sell-out MTV-era hits he had to play to appease fans, like a certain other white-guys-stealing-black-blues-riffs band from around his heyday (ZZ Top).
Amazingly, George slid in his biggest hit, "Bad to the Bone," halfway through the set, leaving one wondering if he was encouraging early exits to lessen traffic congestion. But he kept the momentum going until the very end, when -- in absolute cornball showmanship -- he had a roadie bring him a stool and feigned exhaustion. Of course, he found the power to grind out one more rugged old blues cover, though, "Madison Blues." And out the door I went.