After about three intolerable 'opening acts', Mr Trower took the stage at about 10:10 PM, and played until about 11:40 PM (Central Daylight Time) at the 'Spring Block Party' at the City Market here in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The show was co-sponsored by The Grand Emporium – a blues bar/club that is at least semi-famous at the national level – and that Trower has played at before. However, the show this time was [thankfully] held outdoors, so I am now only [temporarily?] about 25% deaf.
I saw him live once before in about 1989 at that great club in Redondo Beach, California (can't remember the name right now), and he was great, but much too ear-splittingly loud. I was easily 50–75% deaf after that show!
Anyway, Trower was in excellent form. He played just under 90 minutes and did his usual 'hits' – Too Rolling Stoned, Bridge of Sighs, Day of the Eagle, Little Bit of Sympathy, and a couple of other newer 'oldies' like 20th Century Blues, as well as four or five cuts from the Someday Blues CD, including Crossroads. I had just picked up that CD that afternoon before the show, so it is still pretty new to me, and I don't know all of those songs by heart yet. In short, I can only say that he is one of rock's (and probably blues') greatest guitarists.
My only 'rap' on Trower is that almost every song is structured in such a way as to showcase yet another, albeit excellent, guitar solo. (ie no standout lyrics or other great instrumentation to change the tempo or pace of the show. It's 100% pure Trower – which is fine, and that's obviously the way he wants it.) He was backed by a bass player and drummer (both black, and whose names I didn't catch), with the bassist handling the vocals on all but the 'new' stuff. It was great to hear Trower sing on those four or five new Someday Blues cuts.
After the show, Robin came out to sign autographs for a long line of fans. Luckily, I was near the front of the line. I first shoved a Prodigal Stranger CD booklet under his nose and asked if he'd mind signing next to his three Procol cohorts. (Fisher, Brooker, and Reid had all previously signed that booklet.) Robin simply said: 'Sure, I'm not proud!' I then handed him the Someday Blues CD booklet and said: 'Here, you can sign one of yours, too. I've loved your Procol work for a long time, and also your solo work.' He mumbled 'Thank you,' or something like that.
The bouncers were moving the line along quickly, so that was the extent of my brush with Trower. (Robin stayed behind the orange 'security' mesh fence, and the bouncers were out front keeping everything civilized.) I didn't have a chance to show him the Japanese Prodigal Stranger CD with the 'alternate' Man With a Mission with his guitar solo instead of Brooker's piano solo. (Now that might have ticked him off!)
I must say that the Someday Blues CD is very good. Very simple, clean, and straight-forward production – just guitar, bass, drums, organ, the occasional tambourine, and Robin's vocals – sort of the opposite of Prodigal Stranger's production (which did suffer from a bit too much over-production).
Thanks for this, Pat Keating