Robin Trower has been making music for over 55 years. He has been a part of more than 52 albums. You don’t last that long in the music business without being a true talent. Since 1971 with the realease of Procol Harem’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Trower has been a well-respected musician and composer. So well respected in fact, he was tagged “The White Hendrix” in the early ’70s. He brought his Tour to the Seneca Niagara Casino’s Bear’s Den last Thursday night. It was a rare chance to see a legend up close.
The intimate setting was packed with Robin Trower fans. The pre-show buzz in the room harken back to concerts of the 1960s and 70s when guitars ruled the music world.
Trower is a man of smaller stature. A guitar in his hands looks a little larger than average. When he starts playing, however, the sounds that come from that guitar are something special. The first notes of “Too Rolling Stoned” filled the air and the magic started. With a gentle grip on his Custom Stratocaster, Trower plays with an ethereal quality. Notes appear with what looks like very little effort. His hands do not move quickly, almost as if he is coaxing the music out of the instrument. His action is deliberate and there is not a wasted movement or stray note. The long sustain he produces is characteristic of his unique style. It’s like Hendrix and Albert King styling but it’s different. It’s his own sound.
The title track of his latest (24th) solo album, “Where Are You Going To” shows Trower in a revived form, playing beautifully arranged rhythms and solos that flow in almost a trance-like state. It’s classic Trower and the crowd is into it, shouting roars of approval with each solo and run. His band mates, bassist and vocalist Richard Watts and drummer Chris Taggart were an excellent complement to Robin. Watts vocals were a deep baritone reminiscent of previous Trower vocalists Jimmy Dewar and Davey Pattison.
The highlight of the night came halfway through with the hits “Day of the Eagle” which flowed into “Bridge of Sighs.” The transition of one song into the other was pure magic, with Trower spotlit in the center of the stage and the audience focused on him. Those opening notes of “Bridge of Sighs” were so thrilling, it gave this reviewer goosebumps. A quick look around the room saw mouths agape, wide eyes and the hands coming together in thunderous applause. Everyone in the room felt it at that moment and you knew you were part of something special.
The magic continued for another half-dozen songs and ended with a mystical encore of “Rise Up Like The Sun” and the classic “For Earth Below.” The buzz in the room continued out into the lobby where local musicians gathered to talk about the show. Local guitar legend Alyn Syms called the show “the best I’ve ever seen him play.” He added, “As a guitar player coming up in the ’70s there were 5 albums you had to have, “Are You Experienced?” (Hendrix), “Led Zeppelin I” (Page), “Truth” (Jeff Beck), “Machine Head” (Ritchie Blackmore), and last but not least, “Bridge of Sighs” (Trower). Throw in “The Best of Cream” (Clapton) and anything by Ronnie Montrose and Gary Moore and you have a lesson plan to follow.” Well said, Alyn. That kind of respect takes a lifetime to achieve. Robin Trower has earned that respect by making music like he played tonight. May he continue to do so, if not for the respect, then for the pure enjoyment by his fans.
Too Rolling Stoned
See My Life
Not Inside Outside
Where Are You Going To?
Day Of The Eagle
Bridge of Sighs
Holding On To You
Delusion Sweet Delusion
Little Bit Of Sympahty
Rise Up Like The Sun
For Earth Below
We would like to thank Phil Pantano for the credentials to review the show.