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Robin Trower & Sari Schorr

Saturday 4th November 2023

Harlington Arts Centre, Surrey

The announcement of the impending return to the UK of Robin Trower this May came as a welcome surprise. His previous few tours were prone to understandable, but frustrating postponements while he nursed his wife through her final illness and these were followed by a suggestion that he might not resume touring until or unless a cure for Covid had been discovered.

As an added bonus, he will have some new music to play and a new vocalist in the band. Although I’m sure his diehard fans will never tire of hearing Trower classics from the 70s, there has always been a nagging feeling that the vocals sung by bassist James Dewar in the decade from 1973 to 1983 have never been adequately replaced.

That may change to a degree with the arrival of Robin’s Manhaton Records labelmate Sari Schorr, a New Yorker with a powerful voice and good taste in lead guitarists, having employed the services in her own band (who are also touring in April) of first Innes Sibun and now Ash Wilson. Having not yet heard the ‘Joyful Sky’ album, the opportunity to review this online concert was one I leapt at.

These live versions were fairly short and punchy, with the eight cuts from the album (only ‘Flatter To Deceive’ and ‘I Will Always Be Your Shelter’ were not given an airing at this gig) accounting for under half an hour of the 45 minute programme. Robin still managed to cram two solos into the opening ‘The Circle Is Complete’, before the band dropped into a slower, more Bluesy groove for both ‘Peace Of Mind’ and ‘I’ll Be Moving On’.

Sari sat out the title cut from the ‘No More Worlds To Conquer’ (2022) album, with bassist Richard Watts handling the vocals, as Robin helped himself to a longer solo. The shorter ‘Change It’ suffered a little from weaker lyrics, but ‘Need For You’ and ‘Burn’ (no relation to the Deep Purple song) found a nice, slower groove once again, with a pair of Bluesy Trower solos on the latter.

Sari took another breather as the trio then played a medley of two Trower classics from the ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ (1974) album; amazing how songs can be celebrating their golden anniversary, yet still sound as fresh as daisies. Watts again assumed vocal duties on ‘Day Of The Eagle’ (which always sounds to me a little like a high speed burst of ‘Machine Gun’ by Jimi’s Band Of Gypsys, with Chris Taggart in the Buddy Miles role on this occasion), before Robin took a long, brooding solo on the album’s title track. Two songs which will never grow old!

Sari rejoined the trio for a brief burst of ‘The Distance’, before giving her best vocal performance on the new album’s title cut. A closing romp through ‘Rise Up The Like The Sun’ (from ‘20th Century Blues’, 1994) saw Sari sharing the vocals with bassist Watts, as Robin let rip with his wildest solo of the date.

So, rather short and sweet, but enough to whet the appetite for those aforementioned Spring dates; bring them on!

Gary Smith

Setlist:

The Circle Is Complete; Peace Of Mind; I’ll Be Moving On; No More Worlds To Conquer; Change It; Need For You; Burn; Day Of The Eagle/Bridge Of Sighs; The Distance; Joyful Sky; Rise Up Like The Sun.

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