Review: Robin Trower ft. Sari Schorr – Joyful Sky Concert

With the live entertainment business returning to normal after a few dicey years, the live-streamed gig model has (thankfully) taken a bit of a back seat again as musicians get back out there and ply their trade once again in front of an actual audience rather a room of technicians and crew. For his first gig back after a four-year hiatus, celebrated English guitarist Robin Trower chose the live-stream model to highlight his latest acclaimed album, ‘Joyful Sky’, and perform the songs featured within in the way that they were intended to be heard – live. Alongside the ex-Procol Harum member, and reprising her role on the album is New York powerhouse vocalist Sari Schorr; “I’ve worked with some great vocalists over the years, but Sari is dynamite, just an absolute knockout,” reflects Trower. And although watching a show from the comfort of your own home is no substitute for the real thing, it will make do until that can happen, and at least you don’t have to worry about a queue at the bar, someone talking through the quieter moments or the dreaded mobile phones in the air recording every moment. At least through this screen, it is fantastic picture quality with top-notch sound.

Flanked by an amazing backbone of Chris Taggart (drums) and Richard Watts (bass/vocals), Trower and Schorr perform cuts from the ‘Joyful Sky’ album, and just to keep the viewer on their toes; it’s not in sequence. ‘The Circle Is Complete’ opens the show, and it’s obvious fairly quickly that there is great chemistry between the pair. Trower looks happy to leave the spotlight to Sari, and when he does take his moment to shine – the viewer can watch slack-jawed as Trower makes his white Fender Star sing. And thanks to the wonders of technology, can rewind, and watch it again, and again. There is a great moment during Trower’s first solo when the camera perfectly catches Schorr beaming from ear to ear as she watches him make it look easy.

‘Peace of Mind’ is up next, and takes the pace down a notch or two with one of those sultry, smokey vocal performances that make Sari Schorr capable of stopping a charging rhino in its tracks. The simpler riffs from Trower in the intro hint that he is holding something in reserve and that comes through on the gorgeous effects-laden solo that acts as an outro. Known as a blues vocalist of some distinction, Schorr gets to sing the blues on a gorgeous version of ‘I’ll Be Moving On’ which packs a hefty emotional punch, and again, comes complete with another stunning (and quite understated) solo from Robin Trower.

Schorr takes a breather as Watts handles the lead vocals on the slow-burning title track to Trower’s 2022 studio album ‘No More Worlds To Conquer’, and the often talked about early Hendrix influence to Trower’s playing seeps through, along with copious amounts of wah-wah. Utterly magical. As is the run-through of Trower’s 1974 classic ‘Day of the Eagle’ which again features Watts on lead vocals as Trower rolls back the years with one gorgeous guitar tone after another. Forming a killer one-two with the title track of the album that it is lifted from, ‘Bridge of Sighs’, it serves as a timely reminder of the immeasurable talents of Trower.

The funk-filled ‘Change It’ sees Sari taking her place front and centre once again for more cuts from ‘Joyful Sky’. The album opening track ‘Burn’ is special, and rather than the pedal-to-the-metal rocker that the title might suggest, it is a smoldering exercise in how to build a song slowly and keep the listener hanging on for more – and watching it unfold live is incredible. Ironically, it’s a bit of a torch song with heaps of blues attitude chucked on the fire. ‘The Distance’ keeps up the high quality and it is a joy watching just how much Trower gets lost in the music. You get the feeling that he could tackle anything that the world throws at him as long as he has his guitar alongside him.

Ending with a rip-roaring version of ‘Rise up Like the Sun’ from Trower’s 1994 album ’20th Century Blues’ – which features Sari Schorr and Richard Watts on co-vocals – this is class from start to finish. With added extras such as interview footage, as well as the ability for guitar heads to pause, rewind, and rewatch, the ‘Joyful Sky Concert’ is excellent value for money.

More information here.

Review – Dave

Photo credits – Rob Blackham

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