If you’ve never seen a packed house lose their collective voices from screaming at the tops of their lungs, then you’ve never been to a ROBIN TROWER concert. One of the original masters of English Blues showed why he was dubbed the “white JIMI HENDRIX” as he electrified the sold-out House of Blues Dallas with vintage classics. He also introduced new music from his recent album, Time and Emotion, released May 5th on V-12 Records.
Long-time fans were ecstatic and the mega-fan sitting next to me read my setlist and told me where he was and what he was doing the first time he heard every song written on it. He, and the rest of the audience, stood and cheered as the 72-year-old Robin and his band took the stage to dimmed lights and began playing “Too Rolling Stoned.” Robin played to the crowd after a chord change dictated this was going to be a guitar show.
The band then went into “Confessin’ Midnight,” an early blues song. The hollow strings sound combined with Richard Watts’ vocals brought the crowd alive. Robin sang “Where Are You Going To”, and his voice fit the song well.
A CREAM-sounding song was led by Chris Taggert’s hard drum beat in “Not Inside – Outside.” It sounded as fresh as when it was released many years ago. “Somebody Calling” started as a jam session and continued with guitar solos, including some spectacular one-handed fret work. Robin showed a playful side that the audience appreciated.
The fast-paced “Day of the Eagle” brought the fans to their feet again as they recalled the 1974 song. Trower finger-picked notes while still strumming chords for a unique sound very few performers have been able to repeat.
Watts played an aggressive bass to complement Robin’s masterful work. The crowd cheered at the distinctive sound of Trower’s signature song, “Bridge of Sighs.”
Drawn-out notes and impressive drumming made the extended version a highlight of the night. The guitar sounds seemed like words instead of notes and the several-minute instrumental earned a standing ovation from the loyal fans. Trower displayed easy strumming motions that made his instrument talk for the upbeat “The Turning.”
He then made the strings scream before a chord change slowed down the ending. Robin sang another song from the new album, “Can’t Turn Back the Clock.” Well-written lyrics and exquisite guitar work made this a song from a must-have record for fans.
And the fans loved “Daydream” as it showed his dexterity on the Hendrix-sounding song. The multi-minute version of my favorite Trower number contained some of the best ax work in his remarkable guitar-slinging career and every person in the venue voiced their approval. It led into “Little Bit of Sympathy” and the uplifting tune elicited loud screams before the standing ovation for the set-closing song.
The screaming continued until they came back onstage for the highly-anticipated encore. The fans had been enthralled at what had already transpired and knew great music was still to come, even though the show was quickly coming to a close. The trio shined on the uptempo “Rise Up Like the Sun” from 1994. As were most of his songs, it was guitar-centric and his solo in the middle of the tune caused a frenzy in the crowd.
It continued with the slower-paced “For Earth Below.” The stretched-out strings provided a unique mood for the music which again took the audience back in time. The song was different for closing a concert, but it was such a great one and performed so well that it fit perfectly.
The crowd soaked in the moment and then exploded for another well-deserved thunderous ovation. The guitar master who should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thanked the crowd and left the stage to deafening applause.
Instead of filing out, a large number of audience members remained in the now-lit venue to talk about the show and how his new music showed a resurgence in creativity from the veteran rocker. Many talked about his days in PROCOL HARUM and the career that has spanned more than 30 studio albums and many more compilation records. Everyone had a favorite song and album that they shared. Naturally, the comparisons to Hendrix were brought up often.
The spry septuagenarian still tours constantly, a trait that doesn’t appear to change anytime soon. His current run promoting the new record continues through June in the United States before resuming in Europe later in the year. It’s a show well worth seeing for new and old fans alike.
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS