Posted: 26 Jan 2015
Image by Jo Lopez
The Sage Gateshead
23 January 2015
Best known for being a key member of Bruce Springsteen’s E
Street Band for the last three decades, guitarist Nils Lofgren also previously
worked with Neil Young. His tour T-shirts proclaimed ‘ Touring since 1968’ and
Lofgren recalled his first appearance on Tyneside in 1973 during Young’s
‘Tonight’s the Night’ Tour.
On that occasion the perennially awkward Young ignored his
two previous mega-selling albums to play ‘Tonight’s the Night’ in its entirety.
Having completed his rendition he teased the City Hall audience by introducing
the next song as ‘Here’s something you’ve heard before’… before launching into
‘Tonight’s the Night’ again.
Nils Lofgren, though, is a crowd pleaser. New songs mix with
all the old favourites from his impressive back catalogue as a solo
In reflective mood and providing long and intimate
introductions to every song in a set that spread to two hours, Lofgren even
played the introduction to one of the key songs on one of those seminal Neil
Young LPs, ‘Southern Man’ from ‘After
the Goldrush’, explaining how he’d worked the introduction to the number.
There’s also a Springsteen song in the set, ‘Because the
Night’ – Patti Smith’s biggest hit – being the first encore before Nils wrapped
things up with his own sublime ‘Shine Silently.’
Accompanied throughout by multi-instrumentalist Greg
Varlotta, Lofgren began the evening by playing the harp, had a stint on
keyboards and played a range of mainly acoustic guitars. The sold-out audience
lapped it up with ‘Keith Don’t Go’, ‘New Holes in Old Shoes’ ‘No Mercy’ and
(appropriately) ‘The Sun Hasn’t Set On This Boy Yet’ amongst the highlights.
This was the third time I’ve seen Nils on his own and every
time he’s been excellent. There’s talk of a return in October and if that
proves to be the case get in quick before it sells out.