Robin Trower | Islington Assembly Hall | 18 October 2016
Photo credit: Paul Clampin
“Is the best yet to come?” asks Robin Trower on ‘Where You Are Going To’, the title track of his latest album. Performed tonight with tenderness and restraint, it reflects on “how we have no idea how our lives might unfold”.
But for the next 90 minutes, the guitarist and his audience know exactly what’s coming: the highlights of a 40-year solo career, performed with feeling. Eschewing look-at-me showmanship and soulless technical precision for something far more important – a rich, emotional sound all his own – Trower’s personality bleeds into every note.
Playing his Fender Strat with all the understated confidence of a man who still practices two to three hours a day and continues to evolve the “crying” bending sound of recent years, he’s able to make each song sound even more moving than you remember it.
So ‘Too Rolling Stoned’ is, quite simply, blistering; ‘Day Of The Eagle’ ends on a delicate but heartbreaking extended solo; ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ swaps psychedelia for sensitivity; a visceral ‘Daydream’ amplifies the intensity, especially during the spellbinding instrumental finale; ‘Somebody Calling’ grooves more than a 40-year-old song has any right to; and ‘Confessin’ Midnight’ finds Trower at his most impassioned.
But it’s not just the classics that have been spiritually reborn – even newer offerings have more soul than before. The 2013 slow jam ‘See My Life’ now truly celebrates its bluesy origins; ‘The Turning’, with that tear-stained solo, quietly rips out your heart; and gritty ‘Not Inside – Outside’ boogies like a beast.
So too, the encore of celebratory 20th century blues stomp ‘Rise Up Like the Sun’ and ‘70s stoner classic ‘For Earth Below’ sound like an outpouring of Trower’s inner spirit, ending this evening of musical sincerity – and effortless prowess – on an emotional high.