11 June 2018

Nils Lofgren, St Davids Hall Cardiff, May 31st 2018


This is the final night of the ’50 Years Up The Road’ tour, celebrating fifty years on the road for Nils Lofgren. He’s joined by multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta and together the pair show their talents to the full. For a guy who’s played with the likes of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, Lofgren is very humble. Opening the show with ‘Wonderland’, he’s also very relaxed, whether he’s regaling us with stories from his career or by simply playing the guitar, either acoustically or rocking out on the epic ‘Code Of The Road’ from his 1979 album ‘I Came To Dance’, which is full to the brim with solos. ‘Girl In Motion’ from his ‘Silver Lining’ release is superb with its deep meaningful lyrics and he also gives us ‘Sticks n Stones’ from the same album.Then we’re back rocking again with tracks from his Grin days, ‘Rusty Gun’ and ‘Like Rain’. It’s fascinating to compare his material from the Seventies, like ‘No Mercy’ with his later work, such as ‘Black Books’ from 1995, one of his darker albums.

His debut solo album, ‘Nils Lofgren’ from 1975 is also featured, with Goin’ Back being part of a three song sandwich along with another Grin track ‘Believe’ and a song written by Neil Young called ‘Wondering’ from Lofgren’s 2008 album ‘The Loner:Nils Sings Neil’. We also get ‘Keith Don’t Go’, his ‘ode’ to Keith Richards, from that sublime debut album. There are some fabulous and at times hard to believe stories about his years with Mr Young and also in the E Street Band and the man stood in front of us hasn’t aged a day.

As well as being a very good singer and guitarist, Lofgren treats the audience to his accordian skills , which he apparently learned to play before the guitar, giving us his version of ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’, which has to be seen and heard to be believed. Finally, ‘Shine Silently’ from his 1979 album ‘Nils’ brings this phenomenal show to a close and we’re faced with the huge smile of a man doing what he loves best and doing it incredibly well. So much material he could have used and the two hours spent in his company could easily have doubled in length and no-one in the packed arena would have complained.

It appears that he will have a new album out sometime soon and if that news wasn’t enough, there’s also talk of another UK tour with his full band. Personally, I can’t wait!