It’s not often that I get surprised by music these days… well I guess I am surprised that people are buying Nicki Manaj cds and attending Katy Perry concerts en masse but after more than a decade of reviewing music, attending concerts and interviewing rock stars, it takes something pretty incredible to stop me in my tracks.
That’s exactly what happened at 8:15 pm November 4, 2014 in the lobby of the Carolina Theater, Durham, NC.
Running late after an hour and ½ drive, I was anxious to get to my seat but the sound of a guitar poured out into the lobby and I was stopped by its simplicity and perfect execution.
The song was “Daydream” and I felt like I was in one.
The performer? The legendary Robin Trower, an artist that I knew only a little about and someone who had hit the limelight a bit before my time…sure I knew about his work, and “Bridge of Sighs” is one of those rock anthems that anyone surrounded by music is aware of but I had never been to a Trower show and I couldn’t have named more than 3 songs by him if you threatened my life. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Trower, I was just simply unaware of his extraordinary talent, he and I come from different eras- he was playing to arena crowds when I was fine tuning being a toddler.
However after the last note reverberated through the theatre, I became a convert to the Church of Trower.
For the first time in a long time, I really listened and in a different way..I wasn’t trying to catch if the vocals were buried in the mix, or if the bass player was truly in the pocket, I was simply mesmerized that 3 guys on a stage with a few Marshalls could produce such an incredible sound. Granted he’s been doing this since 1962 so talent and execution aren’t really a concern but this is one performer who still plays with passion..a subdued passion, and that is an art form in and of itself.
Trower isn’t a shredder, nor does he need to be; as he moved through his set list, I learned that playing with precision and meaning can carry across more than the highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos that are superfluous , emphatic beats, and overall loudness that had been my music du jour for so many years.
Trower seems to do the impossible—he creates a wall of sound and then flows it through a tunnel….compressing and distinguishing individual notes. The pace is deliberate and almost leisurely instead of a high speed chase to get to the end of the song. The show featured many of Trower’s trademarks –the extended single-note riff, call-and-response phrasing, and idiosyncratic fingering . Hard rocking? Maybe, but this is also the Blues played by an Englishman influenced by BB King, Otis Rush, and Albert King…not the standard 12 bar blues but an interpretation that comes through in songs like “Too Rolling Stoned” which Trower saved for the encore. The nearly sold out auditorium exploded in gratitude.
Opening with “Somebody Calling”, and moving through classic “Bridge of Sighs” cuts like” Lady Love”, “Bridge of Sighs”, “Day of the Eagle”, and “Little Bit of Sympathy” Trower gave the audience exactly what they paid for…songs from one of the eponymous rock albums of 1970s , flawlessly executed.
He gave me a new guitar hero to look up too.
Mr. Trower, I apologize it took me so long to get here, but I am really glad I arrived at your station.
For more info on Trower’s current tour go to www.trowerpower.com