LIVE REVIEW: Robin Trower @ Sage Gateshead (3.4.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The term “legend” is often bandied about without too much consideration for its authenticity, and Robin Trower has been described as such by many a commentator. I’ll hold my hands up and say I hadn’t heard of him before, so he had some work to do to earn the moniker “legend” as far as I was concerned. Judging by the crowd, I was about 30 years too late to the party, but I needn’t have worried. Support act Joanne Shaw-Taylor came on and blew away any cobwebs I suspected might be lurking in the magnificent Sage Hall 2. A power trio featuring drums, bass and the incredible vocals and guitar of Miss Shaw-Taylor, I couldn’t help uttering that famous line from Wayne’s World “man, she can wail.” This was definitely a rock-blues outfit for me, rather than blues-rock, although there were sweet moments of calm. I was seriously impressed, and can see this young group going far.

So, after the pure energy of the support act and a lighting hitch it was time for the main man to enter the stage. Accompanied by powerful drummer Chris Taggart and bassist Richard Watts, Robin Trower made an understated entrance. He isn’t a brazen showman or attention seeker, but from the first note he played I could see he is a professional of guru standards. Leaning more towards the blues side of blues-rock, the sheer class of the man was clear to see, and I quickly realised why he is regarded as a legend. I was in the same venue a few weeks ago to see another blues-rock band, King King, and while Mr Nimmo tore shreds off his guitar in some quite amazing solos, Mr Trower was much more reflective. Each note seemed carefully chosen and crafted from raw materials, the actions of a seasoned performer. It has been said that he is the “white Jimi Hendrix” and I can honestly say that I had thought that myself during the gig, even prior to reading it. His guitar seemed to be speaking to me, almost sounding human at times. It came as a surprise to me when bassist Richard Watts began to sing, although probably not to most of the audience, what surprised me more was the power and control in his voice. I have since been informed that the original bassist cum singer Jimmy Dewar has been more than adequately replaced. The vocals were shared between Trower and Watts, which offered a nice dynamic and a touch of variety.

As a member of the uninitiated, or at least a newbie, I thought the overall sound was closer to Steely Dan than Procol Harum. Whatever the comparisons, and without focussing on the technical merits of a supremely talented group of individuals, I can say that I enjoyed the music immensely. Robin Trower can wear his legend badge with pride and continue to build his fan base; he has another one here.

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