Rychard Carrington reports on Nils Lofgren - Cambridge Corn Exchange, 17 October 2010

Nils Lofgren
Cambridge Corn Exchange, The


This was the best gig I've seen at the Corn Exchange this year.  Nils Lofgren is well-respected as a 70s-vintage US rocker, but he is celebrated as an electric guitarist, so an acoustic gig was an uncertain propostion. I had a hunch, though, that Lofgren was someone you could trust, and, happily, my trust was amply confirmed. Not only is Nils a brilliant acoustic guitarist, he exudes a a rock'n'roll cool that creates a great atmosphere for witnessing very exciting and varied virtuoso performances from Nils and his adept sidekick Greg Varlotta.


Looking somewhat Mexican, the physically diminutive Lofgren, replete with long sideburns and broadbrimmed black hat, opened surprisingly by playing the harp (n.b. not the harmonica but the stringed instrument), supported, as on many numbers, by Varlotta's keyboards.Then Nils produced an electric guitar (not all acoutic then - but I'm sure noboidy minded) for a superb Too Many Miles Down This Road. Next we were treated to some ace bottleneck on Cry Tough, before more acoustic virtuosity on number after number - the solo on Girl In Motion was particularly outstanding. Lofgren's voice was strong too, carrying all the usual country-rock emotions convincingly. 


More musical variety ensued with Lofgren on piano, Varlotta on trumpet and Varlotta on tapdancing (he was seriously good at it). Many strong numbers from Lofgren's solo albums featured: Heaven Is Only Five Minutes From Hell, Black Books, Keith Don't Go (with another exemplary guitar solo), No Mercy. The set climaxed with Springsteen's Because The Night, with Nils back on the electric. Then an encore of I Came To Dance, with both Varoltta and Lofrgren tapdancing. Finally the third electric number (this time including a full rock backing track), Shine Silently.


Lofgren can even play well with just his right-hand, as he downs a bottle of juice in one with his left. But ultimately it was unostentatious attitude that carried the evening, as much as prowess. A true roocker, a truly passionate musician. Ten out of ten.


Writer: Rychard Carrington