Rarest of talents, Robin Trower thrills sellout crowd

Kurt Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

Robin Trower rocks a full house on May 27, at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Kurt E. Johnson

On a day that the world lost a legend in Gregg Allman, another treated a nostalgic Lake Tahoe audience to an evening of masterclass guitar as only Robin Trower can present one.

Striding confidently from the wings shortly after 7:30 p.m., Trower, 72, grabbed his waiting signature Fender Stratocaster and wasted no time launching into the classic “Too Rolling Stoned” to kick things off at a sold-out Harrah’s South Shore Room.  A single red and white guitar would remain in his capable hands for the entire set, with only an occasional respite for a quick tune, as he took an eager crowd on a blues-rock journey with just enough funk and psychedelia swirled in to remind everyone just how long his impressive career has flourished.

Kurt Johnson Tahoe OnstageThe title track from 2016’s “Where Are You Going To” and “Make Up Your Mind” from his latest album “Time and Emotion” showcased his unique ability to not only craft songs in a classic blues style but also create a unique texture and release of emotion in the notes and their expression. Trower coaxes and commands his instrument to places only the rarest of talents can make an object comprised of wood, brass, and steel travel.

Following a standing ovation after the aforementioned “Mind,” it was time for a romp down memory lane. The familiar opening riff of “Day of the Eagle” brought a wave of cheers and fist pumps to the smiling crowd, which was treated further as the band moved seamlessly into the gut-rattling chords of “Bridge Of Sighs” that included a searing extended solo section. Trower then threw a curve by taking the mic for tasty lead vocal duties on 2010’s “The Turning.”

The highlight of the evening was a lengthy version of “Daydream.” The nature of the song, with its feather-drifting-down-on-a-sunny-day pace and so much air between each musician’s part, causes them to almost stand alone, yet be together at the same time, seemingly connected only by the trailing embers of one another’s notes. Chris Taggart’s steady foundation on drums all evening was especially telling here, allowing Richard Watts’ carefully sculpted bass line to both support Taggart and create the bridge to connect Trower, who took every opportunity to bend, finger-hammer, warble and wail in the space provided.

While perhaps a bit more brief than some would have liked at just under 90 minutes with encore, the set had just enough hits to satiate while newer material held some surprises without sacrificing any of the unmistakable Trower sound and feel so familiar to longtime fans.

– Michael Smyth

About Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth moved to Reno in 2007 after living more than 40 years in the Bay Area. In addition to going to live shows, he enjoys golf, skiing and fly-fishing. Check out his website https://michaelsmythmedia.com/

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