There is something to be said for that magical moment when you are literally just a few feet from a living legend while they are playing a song you’ve heard probably thousands of times and never grown tired of. That’s just what happened to me on Friday night in Seattle when Robin Trower rolled into town.
My photopass for Trower allowed me to shoot two songs from the front of the stage and then when those two were done, if I wanted to continue to shoot, I’d need to move to the side or somewhere else. After I shot those first two songs, I said to myself, “I’m not going anywhere.” I literally was dead center using the stage as a storage shelf, next to all the wine glasses from the fans that were packed in there standing up front, no one in front of me, so I put my camera down and got lost in the moment.
Somewhere around the 5th or 6th song, the band busted out into the opening of “Day of the Eagle,” with Watts’ vocals totally on point and Trower not-too-delicately massaging the neck of his strat. They played it much like you’d hear it on ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ his 1974 release that pretty much cemented him in the lives of many rock fans and guitar enthusiasts worldwide as a deity. The song contains an incredible solo and Trower tore it up once again, showing off his six-string mastery as he got everything he could out of that Fender. One of his faster-paced songs, Trower proved that even though he’s been an inhabitant of this planet for seven decades, he can still bring it. As that song ended and with this guitar legend’s left hand hammering up high on the neck, the first few notes of “Bridge of Sighs” began to fill the Moore Theatre.
As Trower ripped through a several minute long version of “Bridge of Sighs,” you could almost feel the absolute raw emotion that comes out in his music. It’s a gloomy, psychedelic doom blues rock song that just cuts through a person and Trower played it spot on, other than a heavily improvised solo that always came back to the root right on time. As he stood in the middle of the stage with his eyes closed and his balding gray-haired head cocked back slightly, he completely immersed himself in the song and took the members of the packed venue along for the ride as well. It was definitely an epic moment and one greatest displays I’ve witnessed on the electric guitar.
One of the highlights for me was the 3rd song of the night, “See My Life,” from his 2013 album ‘Roots and Branches”. The song has one of the filthiest guitar riffs you’ll ever hear and don’t forget this came out in 2013. It’s a safe bet that some people in the crowd only came to hear the 70’s stuff that they grew up listening to but when he started that song out the crowd was on fire. Trower’s last two albums contained some really great stuff and I was glad he played some of it, but he knows how much the crowd loves his classics and he made sure he didn’t disappoint. The classic “Daydream” was another crowd favorite as they continued to mix the old with a little bit of new.
The band that is on the road is made up of Richard Watts on vocals most of the time, although Robin displays that he can sing when he wants to. The man behind the drum kit was Chris Taggart and he showed that he can play as he and Watts, the bass player/vocalist, laid down the foundation and allowed the rock god to do his thing. The Seattle show was the last of a 22-city tour that took place since June 2.
Although he didn’t make a lot of of small talk with the crowd, choosing to let his guitar do the talking for him, he clearly was having a lot of fun. He smiled widely all night long and when he was playing and hit a particular note he made the guitar face that only the best of them can do. (that’s a thing BTW, see HERE). As each epic note was hit, his face contorted and mimicked what he was playing on the guitar. At times he would mouth out the notes as he was playing them. It’s evident that even as much as he’s played some of these songs, he isn’t tired of playing them yet.
After the set concluded, and after bringing the Moore crowd to a frenzy, Trower and his mates left the stage briefly, until the deafening applause brought them out for the encore. The band came out for a two-song encore that started with the unmistakable “Too Rolling Stoned” and brought the entire place to their feet for the remaining several minutes of the show.
Seattle’s own Ayron Jones and The Way opened up the show much to the delight of the jam-packed Moore Theatre. This show was originally booked for The Neptune but the show organizers wisely moved it a few months ago and it was a great decision.
Ayron started off his set with one of his newer songs “Boys From The Puget Sound”. When you listen to this song, it’s hard not to feel some degree of pride about being from here. But the song, while it certainly would be popular locally based on the the title alone, isn’t a gimmick or a cliche. No, the song rocks and shows the evolution of AJ and The Way. Their set included other fan favorites like “Baptized in Muddy Waters,” “My Love Remains” and “Feedin’ From the Devil’s Hands,” the last of which brought the Moore Theatre crowd to a standing ovation for the local boys.
One thing I found interesting about this show and namely Trower was he used only one guitar for the whole show and didn’t spend a whole lot of time tuning it. Trower has always mistreated the strings on his guitar, bending them as well as anyone who has ever played, seemingly squeezing every ounce of energy that he can from them. The way he tortures the strings, I would think it would go out of tune, but it remarkably doesn’t. Other than a roadie bringing him a towel and some water once in a while, he stayed right out there in the middle of the stage and gave it his all and damn was it ever hot in there! The audience was a sweaty mess by the end of the night, but even though it was hotter than Hades in the Moore Theatre on the sweltering night of July 3, 2015, I get the feeling they would have been covered in sweat even if this show had taken place in the middle of winter.