As a huge Procol Harum fan, I've always admired the artistry and genius that is Robin Trower. You can imagine what an honour it was to be asked to support Robin in London for a sold-out show at the beautiful Islington Assembly Hall.
At the same time, it was an artistic challenge. I was asked if we could do a stripped down version of the full band and go out as a trio with Ash Wilson on acoustic and electric guitars and Bob Fridzema on keyboards. But, there was only one answer, and that was a resounding, "yes!"
Then things got complicated. I was heading straight to Wales from New York to squeeze in some recording sessions for the new album with Wayne Proctor and Steve Wright. Ash was out of the country and not returning until the night before the show. So, the plan was to rehearse at the venue for a few hours before showtime.
More complications surfaced. Ash took a bad fall on the ice after an untimely UK snow storm and badly sprained his wrist. By the time Ash stepped into the concert hall, he was in so much pain we doubted if he could play. Then the keyboards arrived without pedals or cables. It now looked certain that we would not go on.
A skilled backstage crew sorted out the keyboards and Ash got some serious painkillers from my dear friend Chris Taggart, who is Robin's very talented drummer. As a side note – coincidentally – the day before I recorded a great song that will appear on my new album called, "Back-Up Plan," written by Richard Watts, who is amazing on bass and vocals for Robin.
We decided it would be best to forego the rehearsal to give Ash's wrist time to settle down. We warmed up with a bit of "Damn the Reason," filmed below.
It was showtime and we took the stage! Ash, Bob and I exchanged secret smiles.Then the music started. The audience and I together heard how the songs revealed themselves for the first time. The spontaneity was exhilarating and inspiring. Ash and Bob did a fantastic job redefining the music, which allowed me to reinterpret the lyrics and focus on the emotional content. It was a night I will never forget!
Robin Trower with Chris Taggart and Richard Watts