Nils Lofgren at the Winchester (2006)

Winchester in Lakewood, Ohio

15 June 2006

It was another enjoyable night of music last Thursday at the Winchester in Lakewood as Nils Lofgren did two solo shows. I was a little apprehensive about the evening before hand for two reasons: I had spent the day listening to several of his albums from before his E Street band days and a lot of it sounded dated; and I thought the club would be filled with too many Springsteen fans, not enough Nils fans. I was wrong on both counts.

I caught the second show and really enjoyed it. Nils went through the highlights of his solo career (“Keith Don’t Go,” “Girl in Motion,” “I Came to Dance,” “No Mercy”); did a couple of Bruce songs (“Here Come the Night,” “If I Fall Behind”); and showed that he could still play the guitar. The simple setting really brought out the quality of his songs. When he sang “You” everyone heard each word of ‘We had this for awhile/and when we made love you smiled.’ He also did a stint at the piano doing “Blue Skies” with a beautiful harpsichord like solo in the middle of it.

His voice still sounded angelic when he needed it, and his stage presence kept most of the capacity crowd into the show. It was one of those nights the crowd was an important part of the evening, giving standing ovations after several Nil’s classics, and no one was heard shouting out Springsteen songs to cover. Lofgren was also rewarded with good responses to several well-performed guitar solos.

The Winchester is perfect for these types of show. Its smallness and outstanding sound system allows for intimacy between the performer and the audience, and when the performer is as talented and experienced as Nils Lofgren, and the audience was as receptive as it was last Thursday, the show becomes close to perfect. My only real criticism was the drum machine that Lofgren added to a couple of tunes, especially “Here Comes the Night.” He didn’t need it, his voice and guitar playing was more than enough to carry any tune. As with most shows at the Winchester, Lofgren stayed around after and signed every old album and posed for every picture.

For a $12 ticket, and beer at the same price as your favorite neighborhood joint, I couldn’t imagine a better night out for the forty and fifty somethings in the audience than last Thursday at the Winchester.