I felt every one of my 58 years earlier this week, when telling a couple of work colleagues the name of the artist I was going to see in concert that night. 'Nils Lofgren' I said. Blank faces. 'Singer-songwriter' I added helpfully. Blank faces. 'Well he's been a member of the E-Street Band for 35 years'. Blank faces. 'Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band?' I continued, becoming a tad desperate. '...Bruce Sprig...who?' Neither of them had ever heard of Bruce Springsteen. It wasn't that they were unfamiliar with his music, or knew him but didn't like his stuff - they had literally never heard of Bruce Springsteen. How do you get into your early 20s without ever having at least heard of Bruce Springsteen? I threw a few more big names at my baffled colleagues to see if anything stuck. 'Bob Dylan?' Nope. 'Tom Petty?' Nope. 'The Clash?' Nope. I was clearly being too obscure. 'The Beatles' I boomed confidently. 'You must have heard of The Beatles?' 'Oh yes, I've heard of them,' came a reply '..but I don't think I've heard any music by them. Are they an instrumental group?' I kid you not.
It's been 40 years since I first saw Nils Lofgren in concert and around 25 years since the last time. This latest tour is a stripped back celebration of his 50th year on the road and showcases material from all stages of that long and successful career. The highlight of the night for me was 'Black Books', a song originally released on his 1995 studio LP 'Damaged Goods', though this interpretation from 1997's 'Acoustic Live' is much closer to the atmospheric version we got on Tuesday evening.
Nils Lofgren - Black Books