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Pop Music Review : Nils Lofgren Displays His Power In Concert

July 11, 1986|DUNCAN STRAUSS

Nils Lofgren extended his reputation as a sideman extraordinaire when he joined the E Street Band just before Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." tour.

Many of those folks who enjoyed his work for The Boss may not realize that Lofgren's also a self-employed rocker who's done several solo records and tours--like the one that brought him to the Coach House on Wednesday night.

The show reinforced the longstanding Lofgren Theorem: While his albums have been wildly uneven, his concerts are stunning affairs. The format, though, was a little different this time around. The set began as a solo-acoustic evening--a seated Lofgren accompanying himself on guitar--and ended up quite electric, with accompaniment by two keyboardist-guitarists (including his brother Tom).

Operating without a rhythm section didn't prevent Lofgren from generating considerable power Wednesday. Early in the evening, while still alone on stage, he played "Keith Don't Go" (an 11-year-old salute to Keith Richards) that remains an affecting, forceful tune--despite the spare rendition.

From there, the show's emotional intensity continued to build as Lofgren strung together several fine songs, highlighting both his acoustic-guitar and piano playing, and his reedy vocals.

But Lofgren's performance soared to an entirely different level during "Delivery Night." He picked up his electric guitar for the first time and reeled off a lyrical and riveting solo. Lofgren is such an accomplished player--a guitar hero in the best sense of the phrase--that for the rest of the night, he drew applause by simply reaching for his electric guitar.

There were remnants of his association with Springsteen--wearing a Springsteen T-shirt and encoring with an unreleased Boss tune, "Man at the Top." But it was unquestionably Lofgren's night.

He moves to the Palace for a show tonight.

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