Procol Harum

the Pale

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Echo Chamber

The Culture Room, Ft Lauderdale, 20 October 2001

Beverly Peyton writes to BtP:

Robin Trower has passed this way many times, but the venue was never quite convenient enough for me. And then there were the times I almost went to hear him live, but unforeseen forces would avert those plans. There was the time when he played here with Dave Bronze which I did catch and then there were the times early on when he initially left Procol that I often went to hear him, but it had been at least fifteen years since that last live concert and now he was booked not five minutes from where I live! Wild Mushrooms couldn't keep me away! ;-)

The Culture Room was converted from an old dance club and bar. I can't say I had a problem with the standing-room-only agenda. I somehow always found myself standing along the aisles when he played live in the past anyway so it seemed fitting and he certainly attracts a fine and courteous audience. I suppose a House of Blues venue would be more appealing, but I was there to hear the band and not for the décor. I might add I always knew Robin to prefer that smaller room intimacy with his fans whenever he played or at least that was the impression he gave. This room held at least 300 with an upper level rather like a rafter for maybe another 50, possibly more. The house was packed.

The opening act was an excellent band which I gather was local and I wish I had gotten their name. They were REALLY good and I can't say I wasn't surprised that the crowd wasn't rushing them off in order to hear Robin – which was saying a lot! I liked their originality and spunk and hope they do well. The Culture Room must open many doors for such bands trying to dig their heels in.

I did find myself amused by the surrounding banter in between changes. All those die-hard 'Trower-powers' exchanging opinions about who, where, and how Robin has spent his life with this musician and that musician and why. And I won't even begin to tell you about the behaviour of those employed by management for Robin. That in itself provided a few laughs. No, I did not get to speak with Robin unfortunately, and I was terribly disappointed to learn Derek Sutton wouldn't be arriving.For some reason they cancelled the shoot for the DVD that was initially planned.

Pandemonium erupted when Robin and his band took to the stage. He greeted the room looking fit and happy to be there. He also donned a tee-shirt of the American Flag. As most of you already know, Robin has a three-piece group. This particular band includes Alvino Bennet on drums and Richard Watts on bass and vocals. It didn't take but seconds to become fixated. It's been a fact that Robin always had difficulty playing and singing at the same time which I see he has thankfully overcome. I always loved his voice and apparently the audience does too. But most of all it was his natural ability to become one with his guitar and breathe his life's soul and spirit right through it.

It was with much despair when I learned of Robin leaving Procol. Not because of his replacement, but because I didn't find his solo material to equal or surpass what he was leaving behind. With Procol he was unique unto himself and even tho' he was a guitar God, I found what he was doing was comparable to many other greats that came before like Muddy Waters, BB King, Steve Cropper and even Eric Clapton. Surprisingly enough he played Crossroads. He also played a major portion from Bridge of Sighs as well as Go My Way. Then he opted to play some new ones that hadn't been released yet (that's right Rob, rub it in ! ;-)) AND then there was one song that resembled Poor Mohammed. Not sure of the title, but just as I thought that's what he was playing it suddenly veered into something else and then returned to those same opening chords. Might anyone know which song this is? Maybe it was a new one.

What makes his live performance what it is are the liberties he takes leaving recorded constraints behind and embellishing the subtleties that cry for more. I think his improvisation surprises even him and when he flashes that grin you know you have sensed it correctly. He still might display some of the influences he emulates, but what emerges is a talent very adept with phrasing. One might get the impression he is channeling the way he 'physically' expresses his music. Without much fanfare he invites you into his chamber of strings and then exits knowing he has left an echo behind.

Thanks Robin and Shine On!

Thanks, Beverly!

Robin Trower's page at BtP

More from Beverly Peyton

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