Delbert McClinton brought the Texas Roadhouse he's been carrying with him for more than 20 years to the Wax Museum last night. The leather-lunged McClinton tore into a range of classic and original rhythm and blues that incorporated heavy doses of soul and funk.
Like most great bluesmen, he was alternately tough and vulnerable, his songs of lust and violence giving way to tender romances. By the time he got to his gritty version of "Take Me to the River," his four-piece band's tight rocking had the dance floor packed.
Although this was far from McClinton's best band -- sorely missing the Texas guitar stylings of longtime sideman Billy Sanders and any keyboard work -- it provided solid rhythmic accompaniment for McClinton's gravelly vocals. What makes McClinton great is the experience and emotion residing in his blues. When he wailed, "Rebecca, Rebecca, Get Your Big Fat Legs Off of Me," you knew this man has been pinned down by the blues for years.
Opening was a local band, Tough Luck, that tried to blend comedy with some rocking blues. Unfortunately, lead singer Lips Lackowitz's wacky physical satire mixed as well with his band's gutsy playing as curdled milk in a cup of coffee. It's too bad because Lackowitz was an animated performer whose soulful harp work and credible singing hardly needed any humor to be effective.