Robin Trower + Stevie Nimmo Trio
Tuesday 18th October
Islington Assembly Halls, London
Given it was officially Venues Day 2016 - it seemed very appropriate last Tuesday that we were at the Islington Assembly Hall to see legendary Blues Rock guitarist and singer-songwriter, Robin Trower (pictures by Paul Clampin), best known for his 1974 milestone album 'Bridge of Sighs'. It was Robin's penultimate gig on his current UK tour and his special guest was The Steve Nimmo Trio. Trower's latest album, 'Where You Are Going To', was released in the UK earlier this year by Manhaton Records.
Of course, the added bonus of the evening was the opportunity to see the Stevie Nimmo Trio once again following their triumph when they headlined the WRC BluesRockFest in Gravesend recently. Nimmo opened with the familiar intro of ‘Roll the Dice Again' from his latest album 'Sky Won't Fall' with its gut wrenching riffs before dipping into his said same album for the powerful driving "Bonamassaesque" 'Still Hungry' - immediately making his mark on Trower's faithful, the majority no doubt, who were seeing Stevie for the first time. Nimmo then covered David Grissom's Storyville classic 'Good Day For The Blues' - with its country Rock feel more than complemented by Stevie's stand-out guitar solo. And just to rubber stamp his versatility we were then back to "SWF' with the 70’s disco funk of 'Change' and yet another brilliant solo. The slower ‘Running Back To You’ - again from 'SWF' - relates to a relationship so many of us have known - which had a wonderful Bluesy feel about it - showcasing Nimmo's vocals as well his guitar. Stevie finished off his set with the upbeat and boppy 'Lovin' Might Do Us Good' - another from 'SWF' - in some eyes a strange choice to finish their short set - but with Craig Bacon on drums and Mat Beable on bass in Nimmo's engine room - the trio did not fail to impress again.
And if many of the Islington Assembly Halls punters had never seen Stevie before - there was at least one in the audience that had never seen Robin live before ... me. Being a Trower virgin among the rest of his WRC following was slightly daunting but added an extra dimension to proceedings and - needless to say - I certainly was not disappointed! No messing about as they dipped straight into the aforementioned 'BOS' - Richard Watts' bass intro on 'Too Rolling Stoned' kickstarting Trower's guitar as his first (and not his last) solo weaved around drummer Christopher Taggart's beat and Watts' vocals. And if his psychedelic Blues tones on 'See My Life' from 'Roots And Branches' did not give you a feeling of parallel's with Hendrix then I'm not sure what would - again another guitar journey that had you hanging off every twist and turn with Watt's vocal delivery the perfect foil. 'Not Inside - Outside' from 2010's 'The Playful Heart' had a hard act to follow - although another awesome guitar solo was punctuated fleetingly by Trower on vocals as was the whole of the title track from new album 'Where Are You Going To' - which proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with his set list so far.
From the new to the old - in fact 39 years ago to be precise - and 'Somebody Calling' from 'In City Dreams' - which still had that great groovy late '70's feel about it - think Average White Band - although the spine of the set understandably turned back to 'BOS' with the up-tempo slide and chops of 'Day Of The Eagle' metamorphosing into the classic opening of the title track with its unmistakeable riff - an iconic tipping point for me - a bit like seeing Skynyrd doing 'Free Bird' live - this was indeed Rock history. Follow that - and again it was another track from 'The Playful Heart' - 'The Turning' - which turned into a thing of a beauty - Trower might not sing or perhaps have great stage rapport - but this 71 year old sure knows how to make his guitar sing. Trower then dipped into the studio follow up to 'BOS' with 'For Earth Below' and 'Confessin' Midnight' with Watts' earthy vocals and another groovy instrumental outro before he broke into my personal stand out of the night 'Daydream'. Taken from Trower's very first solo album post Procol Harum - 'Twice Removed rom Yesterday' - I've seen Chantel McGregor cover this brilliantly many times - but to see the master in action - well yes, we were spellbound. Awesome. Rockin' Robin rounded off his set with the blistering and well received 'Little Bit Of Sympathy' - again from 'BOS' before returning to do two encores - the short but punchy guitar of 'Rise Up Like The Sun' from his 15th studio album '20th Century Blues' contrasted with the delightfully slower paced psychedelic Blues title track from 'For Earth Below'. And that was that - a shortish set seeing an early finish - but hey this was definitely a case of quality not quantity. An honour and a privilege Mr. Trower.