Review : Nils Lofgren – Wirral – 07 Nov

Posted on: Friday, Nov 10, 2006

Not blues but a great review and local too…..

Floral Pavilion, New Brighton: 07 Nov 2006

The 18th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain commenced in fine style at the Floral Pavilion with a return visit from American guitar legend Nils Lofgren – a ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ – known for his long stints with Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but whose body of solo work stretches way back to 1974, with his A&M days producing a string of classic songs and albums.

He charmed a near-capacity crowd with his easy-going stage persona, anecdotes of his famous musician friends, and of course, some quite magnificent guitar playing and vocals – in the company of the talented Greg Varlotta on keyboards, guitar, trumpet and (I kid ye not) tap-dancing!

A predominantly acoustic show featured a wide cross-section of his career, including some new impressive songs from the new “Sacred Weapon” release -starting the show with “In Your Hands”, the recorded version featuring Wille Nelson; the Iraq war song, “Frankie Hang On” – seen from the perspective of the soldier’s family; and the lovely “Whisky Holler” – which saw Lofgren display his impressive piano playing.

The great “Girl In Motion” featured some gorgeous trademark guitar work, with a lovely instrumental piece preceding it. The Bruce Springsteen songbook was dipped into for “If I Should Fall Behind” – one of Lofgren’s favourite songs from ‘The Boss’. “Black Books”, which featured in “The Sopranos”, was another highlight with Greg Varlotta contributing some tasty synth.

A brace of the early classics featured “I Came To Dance”, with some nifty tap-dancing from Varlotta, and the timeless “Keith Don’t Go”, Lofgren’s tribute to the legendary Keith Richard. A switch to the piano for four songs included the collaboration with Lou Reed – “I Found Her”; the Goffin/King hit “Going Back”, and perhaps, best of all, “The Sun Hasn’t Set On This Boy Yet”.

A most enjoyable set concluded with a switch to his famed Stratocaster for “Because The Night”, featuring a glorious intro, and encores of two more ‘anthems’ – the punchy “No Mercy” and perhaps his most popular solo song – “Shine Silently”. This was a fantastic start to the festival, with many more great shows to come the guitar fans of the area are in for some treats!

Opening up the show – and indeed, the whole festival – was the very talented John Smith. The Liverpool-based, Devon born young man has a very striking voice, I would suggest heavily influenced by John Martyn, and he plays some lovely acoustic guitar. A short set featured his own songs such as “Matchbox Man” and “Winter” – definitely a name to look out for in the future!


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