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Robin Trower lets his guitar do the talking at Penn's Peak

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    JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Robin Trower concentrates on a guitar solo at Penn's Peak Saturday night.
Published October 05. 2009 05:00PM

On his latest album, What Lies Beneath, Robin Trower takes a different direction by handling the vocals himself.

At Penn's Peak Saturday night, Trower continued to let his guitar do the talking.

Trower delighted a crowd of 1,200 at The Peak with a setlist full of his best known material from his 1970's commercial zenith.

This was the second appearance in Jim Thorpe for the 64 year-old British guitarist, and Trower Power was in full flower.

Trower brought the same band he had with him at The Peak in his last appearance there in March, 2008, and if anything, his sidemen allowed him even more room to explore his technical six-string wizardry.

Davey Pattison hit just the right notes as lead vocalist, primarily remaining faithful to Trower's songs without upstaging them. Pattison even left the stage at times so the crowd could focus on Trower's ace playing on his red Fender Stratocaster.

The rhythm section, Glenn Letsch on bass and Pete Thompson on drums, played with precision and kept the undercurrent flowing as Trower cranked out his fretwork.

From the moment Trower and company walked on stage and slid into the opening "Twice Removed From Yesterday", they were able to mesmerize the audience with their mix of soulful, bluesy rock that has been Trower's specialty since he went solo from Procol Harum in 1972.

Adjectives like "Hendrixian" have been used to describe Trower's playing over the years, but he remains true to his own sound; "Trower-esque" should also be included in any electric guitarist's lexicon.

Unlike many guitarists of today, who play for speed and like to fire off Eddie Van Halen-like torrents of hammer-on wailing, Trower is more intricate and focused while still packing a wallop. When he launches into a long, luxurious solo as he did in his trademark "Bridge of Sighs", it's a pleasure to watch a master perform.

Trower's not afraid to crank up the tempo, too, putting the guitar pedal to the metal on "Shame The Devil", "Victims of the Fury" and the funk-flavored soul of "The Fool and Me".

Other highlights included "For Earth Below" and Trower standards such as the charging "Day of the Eagle", "Hannah", "A Little Bit of Sympathy" and the tour de force "Bridge of Sighs".

The only sign of his new album was, ironically, an instrumental, "Time and Emotion", which, while a pleasant change of pace, turned into more of a bridge between songs.

Trower's two-song encore kicked off with another of his signature songs, a rousing bluesbreaker, "Too Rolling Stoned" and closed with an appropriate "Another Time, Another Place".

What new musical directions Trower will explore on his recordings remain to be seen, but in concert he knows what to deliver, and it still resonates with his fans, no matter how far removed from yesterday.

The opening act, Lehigh Valley favorites Steve Brosky and Jimmy Meyer, brought out their acoustic guitars and had the crowd warned up with the renditions of "Layla" and "Take Me to the River", as well as some self-invoked nostalgia with "Cadillac Radio".

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