Submitted by: Lisa Torem
The Copernicus Theater has an old-world charm, which is perfectly suited for a class act like the British legend Robin Trower. Many fans arrived early to talk; reminisce. Although “Time and Emotion,” Trower’s new CD of eleven originals had not yet been officially released to the public at large, lucky fans were able to purchase a few at the merch table, and the buzz about that new disc and Trower’s legacy filled the room.
Copernicus Center, Chicago
Robin Trower’s early career began with Procul Harum in the late 1960s. Some say he redesigned the band’s sound with his blistering solo work. His fruitful solo career has included co-writing with the late bassist Jack Bruce in the 1980s for “BLT” and “Truce” and “Seven Moons” in 2007. His inspirations include Albert King, ZZ Top and Jimi Hendrix; yet Trower has always retained a truly distinctive style.
Everyone there was completely psyched about this concert, as it had been at least a year since the British legend’s last appearance. The multi-aged audience rose up to greet him. Trower looked as if he were incredibly grateful for the grand reception. Drummer Chris Taggart was positioned in the middle, with Trower on house left and bassist/vocalist Richard Watts on house right.
“Too Rolling Stone” was a truly energizing opener. The career-encompassing set list drew from several hard-hitting discs and included the contemporary funk “Can’t Turn Back The Clock” and “Make Up Your Mind” from “Time and Emotion.”
The trio was especially fired up when performing “Day of the Eagle” and “Bridge of Sighs,” two killer pieces in which Trower pulled out all the stops. His bent notes, mesmerizing harmonics and dramatic whammy bar moves tore down the house. As expected, he made full use of his various effects pedals. And, of course, his vintage Marshall Amps served as a strong reminder that he has paid his dues for more than fifty years.
Part of the fun was watching the British statesman pour his heart into every solo. Few showmen these days exhibit such extraordinary pleasure when performing live. He advertised his love for the music and his audience with sultry vocals—shared with Watts, skilled fingers and every conceivable facial muscle. He finessed surrealistic effects; while always keeping his tone impeccably clean. But as the power trio experimented with time and space and Trower's improvision, he stayed consistently true to each melody.
Trower’s talent also lies in his restraint. He handles the whammy bar like a toreador facing off a bull. He anticipates the wheeze of the pedals. He has such command over the effects, his Strat and the onstage acoustic that he can afford to free himself up and lose himself in the moment, like nobody else can.
After the band played the romantic closer “Spellbound,” his audience went ballistic and the power trio returned to play three more selects.
SET LIST: Robin Trower, “Time and Emotion” Tour, 2017
TOO ROLLING STONED
WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO
MAKE UP YOUR MIND
DAY OF THE EAGLE
BRIDGE OF SIGHS
CAN’T TURN BACK THE CLOCK
LITTLE BIT OF SYMPATHY
RISE UP LIKE THE SUN
FOR EARTH BELOW