As London braved snowmageddon and getting anywhere was a case of determination and luck, a living legend, Robin Trower, was headlining a sold-out gig at Islington Assembly Hall. Despite the weather, or should I say, transport conditions, the fans came out in their masses and filled up the venue to capacity. Some diehards even waited outside in the cold for any last minute ticket returns.
The Sari Schorr Trio opened the night for Robin. The American singer-songwriter was accompanied by the exceptional blues guitarist Ash Wilson and Hammond organ wizard Bob Fridzema, who’s known from his previous work with King King and Joanne Shaw Taylor.
The trio delivered a stunning set, with Sari’s vocals hitting new levels of perfection. Despite Islington Assembly Hall being a much bigger venue than Half Moon Putney or Borderline, where she played previously, the band chose to play an almost acoustic set. Stripping the music down created a very intimate feeling and allowed the singer to showcase her enormous range in a different light. Demolition Man, Maybe I’m Falling, and finally a cover of Lead Belly’s Black Betty left the audience in awe, still whispering about the performance after the band had left the stage.
In equal proportion to the temperature dropping outside, the inside temperature rose and just about reached boiling point when Robin Trower took the stage. The excitement made the air heavy. There is no doubt that, coming up to his 73rd Birthday this year, he’s is an icon, a legend, a guitar god living and breathing among us. The former Procol Harum axeman shows no signs of ageing or slowing down and in 2017 released his 22nd, and probably one of the best, solo studio albums of his entire career: Time And Emotion.
Starting with one of the best songs written on guitar, Too Rolling Stoned, the London native made his signature white Strat weep and scream. Smoothly changing into Lady Love, he left no room for any other instrument that evening. In the end, they’re just the backdrop for a man and his Fender.
A rock veteran well travelled in the country of blues, he effortlessly combined different styles and added improvisations to well-known standards. Upbeat rocker Confessing Midnight and Little Bit Of Sympathy, obviously influenced by Hendrix, were mixed with the much more laid-back Daydream and For Earth Below.
With his reputation and years of experience, he doesn’t feel the need to prove anything. Take it or leave it. Watching him live on stage, interacting with his guitar like it is a living creature, it’s easy to see him as a one-of-a-kind of musician, a legend that still walks on Earth.
Robin Trower @ Islington Assembly Hall, London 27th February 2018
Words and photography by Edyta K