Words: Justin Hulford.
The last time I saw Lofgren he was on stage for a lot of the show with a tap dancing trumpeter, a scene that was a lot better than it sounds. This time…
He’s most famous as a member of the E Street Band of Bruce Springsteen and is a superbly technical guitarist and multi instrumentalist, a real nerds’ guitar hero. He grew up on the accordion, more or less learnt piano on tour with Neil Young, and seems to be able to play any type of guitar at virtuoso level. And the harp.
It’s the latter instrument that opens the show and after an intricate piece Lofgren doesn’t really stop for the next two hours and ten. You’ve probably got to be a big fan to recognise many of the songs on offer but they are all played to a superb level. I’d rather he used people instead of the backing tracks but there is no mistaking when he is playing live. In fact we were so far forward we could hear the clicks when he activated his effect pedals!
As the night progresses Lofgren varies the guitars, has a spell on the piano, and even brings the harp back, the second time combining it with tap dancing, guitar and a dancing stick! He is accompanied for most of the show by the trumpet, piano, guitar, occasional vocals and tap dancing of Greg Verlotta.
As well as his obscure hits, there’s a couple of even more unknown songs plucked from his recent ten disc careeer retrospective, a few covers from some of his favourite artists and friends and the Springsteen penned “Because The Night”. He delivers a spiralling one legged move to accompany the solo as it hits a crescendo, belying his sixty three years and titanium hips.
And then it’s over, Lofgren promising to be out front to sign anything required but wanting to skip doing photos as they have a long drive ahead to Salford. Throughout the night he has engaged everyone with short anecdotes before almost every song and a genuine warmth that is often missing from much less stellar artists, let alone those that are used to playing stadium tours. He looks the polished professional and performs like one too, teasing us all by suggesting he’ll be back for more in October.