Weathered, he may be. But he’s far from weatherbeaten.
In fact, based on my conversations with him, 69-year-old singer-guitarist Nils Lofgren — who has been at this rock ’n’ roll thing more for than half a century, both as a bandleader and a sideman — still possesses more energy, enthusiasm and general joie de vivre than kids a third his age. Even more impressive: It comes coupled with the world-class talent, well-honed skills and wealth of experience that one accumulates from decades of playing with the likes of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. The criminally underappreciated artists puts them all to good use — and gets to command the spotlight for a change — on this magnificent and essential live outing. Backed by a crack ensemble featuring drummer Andy Newmark, MVP bassist Kevin McCormick, brother (and former Grin guitarist) Tom Lofgren and E Street backup vocalist Cindy Mizelle, Lofgren lets his hair down, cuts loose and just plain rocks out on a casual set list roughly divided between recent gems and vintage classics. Honestly, between his finely sanded, gently aged drawl and the masterful, jaw-dropping fretwork he effortlessly unleashes throughout the 110-minute show, he’s never sounded better, stronger and more confidently in command. There have already been a handful of live Lofgren releases over the decades, but if you’re looking for Nils at his best, Weathered can’t be beat.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Between E Street Band and Crazy Horse work, master rock singer songwriter-guitarist Nils Lofgren fit in his first tour with a full band in over 15 years. Inspired by the writing with the great Lou Reed on his last studio album, Nils knew it was time. Audience and band alike sharing their souls, gifts, spirit and energy on the tour made for a fresh, new live sound for Nils. The result is in an earthy, rockin’ album that breathes life into a world temporarily void of the excitement, energy, tenderness, and spontaneity of live music during COVID-19. The 16-track Weathered, issued on Lofgren’s own Cattle Track Road Records, was produced by the musician and his wife Amy. It was recorded on the road during select intimate tour dates in the U.S. supporting his recent Blue With Lou studio album. “My dear friends who made that album all agreed to come. Andy Newmark, Kevin McCormick, Cindy Mizelle, and my brother Tom Lofgren joining us to form an amazing band,” notes Nils. “In preparation for the tour my wonderful wife Amy hosted us all in our home and garage studio to put the show together. Amy designed our merchandise, cooked beautiful food for us and created a safe, welcoming musical environment for all. We created the show’s foundation to work from and headed out to share this fresh, new band.” Improvisation has always been a key element in live performances for Nils, a veteran member of some of the greatest rock bands in history, as well as an accomplished and successful solo artist. “All the band members are old friends used to being encouraged to stretch out and improvise with me,” he explains. That freedom shows throughout Weathered. “Our crew did a fabulous job getting everything right for us to do our best every night.” He continues, “Regularly hearing inspired, improvisational surprises from your fellow bandmates elevated our interaction and made for one of a kind, unique shows every night. We all thrive in a live setting and at every show, the audience kicked the music up to a special level we only reach with their contagious, inspired energy.” That comes across brilliantly on this celebratory live album.”