GIG REVIEW – NILS LOFGREN MAY 2018
Nils Lofgren is back in the UK with his “50 Years…Up The Road Tour” and LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch his recent show at the Birmingham Town Hall.
Interspersed with stories from his life on the road with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Grin ( and how he grew up learning to play the accordion before switching to guitar), Nils Lofgren is at ease on stage and with his fans, making plenty of time after the show for autographs and photos.
Billed as “an intimate acoustic evening of songs and stories” the format of the show was similar to the last UK tour – a predominantly acoustic set with support from friend and multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta.
“Code of the Road” was the show’s opener and, although played on acoustic, had Lofgren hitting the effects pedals to give the first of the evening’s many fluid but fierce solos
“Walking Nerve” comes with a trumpet backing from Varlotta and “Girl in Motion” is transformed into a guitar tour de force as Lofgren sets up the basic guitar pattern on his loop pedal before a series of breathtaking acoustic solo patterns.
Here’s a link to an online video of Nils and Greg performing “Girl in Motion” on their 2015 UK tour.
Mid-set Nils moved over to keyboard for the trio of “Wonderin’”, “Believe” and “Goin’ Back”. Fresh from a short series of dates with Neil Young in the States, “Wonderin’” was one of the Neil Young songs worked up for the recent shows but not played.
“Too Many Miles” starts with Lofgren on a Lever Harp (bought for him as a present by his wife Amy) before switching to electric guitar for the first time in the show.
Varlotta switches between keyboard, guitar and trumpet throughout the set and “I Came To Dance” had Lofgren and Varlotta kitted out in tap shoes for a tap dance “duet” (to rapturous applause) in the middle of the song.
Here’s a link to an online acoustic “live in the studio” version of “No Mercy” which was the main set closing number in Birmingham.
Biggest surprise of the night was the first encore – Nils coming out with an accordion and playing “Flight of the Bumble Bee” before moving to an electric guitar for the full rock out on “Shine Silently and his traditional one legged guitar spin finale. It was another great show which covered a wide range of numbers from his very long career.
Currently in the process of recording a new album and with the promise of the next UK tour being with a full band, if you like Lofgren (or love guitar) it’s well worth catching the “intimate” setting of the current tour.
Nils is at the London Barbican on Monday 28th May and full UK tour dates can be found here:
- Code of the Road
- Little On Up
- Walkin’ Nerve
- Man In The Moon
- Girl In Motion
- Love You Most
- Black Books
- Rusty Gun
- Goin’ Back
- Too Many Miles
- Keith Don’t Go
- I Came To Dance
- No Mercy
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a link to Nils playing “Back It Up” on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975: