Of course I once owned a Robin Trower Band album on 8-Track tape. It was the 1970s. Those were the days when rock & roll was just a code word for nostalgia a la American Graffiti, and rock ruled.
Robin Trower was, and is, a guitarist of the type you don’t see much of anymore. That’s probably one reason why the Egg’s Hart Theater was three-quarters full on a recent evening: Guitar Gods are an endangered species. Yes, Trower’s band had a singer; his name is Davey Pattison, and he was very good, in the bluesy, British, Paul Rodgers style. The rhythm section—Pete Thompson, drums, and Glenn Letsch, bass—were solid, but aside from a couple of brief showcase moments, they were there to supply the foundation for Trower.
This kind of music—heavy, serious, bluesy but not really the blues—is built around the guitar. In Trower’s case, a mighty Fender Stratocaster that took listeners on soaring musical journeys that are best evoked by his song titles: “Bridge of Sighs,” “Day of the Eagle,” “Too Rolling Stoned.” Trower is a master of dynamics, slowly building up intensity and then backing off; circling around a note before hitting it, bending it, making it register as something majestic.
You didn’t have to be stoned to appreciate it, either.
Trower has released a couple of new albums in the last few years; the new material blended seamlessly with the old.
By the last third of his relatively short set, a distraction from Trower’s soundscapes crept into the experience. This took the form of dudes who, feeling the effects of the adult beverages they’d imbibed, couldn’t stay in their seats. In this crowd, extra trips to the pisser were as sure a sign of the average age as all the graying pony tails (which, of course, included my own).
I wasn’t expecting an opening act, so the appearance of the Matt Mirabile Band featuring Tommy Love was a pleasant surprise. Actually, it was more that: They engaged and entertained. Mirabile is a monster. He took a couple of extended guitar solos that mesmerized the crowd, which is no mean feat considering the number of folks who tarried at the concessions. (This would be the cause of the effect described above.) The set list was mostly late-’60 covers of the EricJeffCreamZepJimi variety, and were in perfect tune with the headliner’s brand of rock. Tommy Love again proved the perfect frontman for this kind of material. His charisma is equal to his confidence, which is in total harmony with his taste and execution. He’s the Capital Region’s Rock Star, and we’re all cool with it.