Saturday February 29, 2012
Neither of knew what to expect – we just knew it seemed like it was ages since he’d last been here, and it was about twenty years ago that elder son Patrick and I saw him with The Range at Hammersmith Odeon, celebrating the UK success of ‘The Way it Is’
The Range has long gone, and apparently his current band is called The Noise. All we knew was that there’d be no support act and that the Empire had its seating specially restored for the evening. Patrick also knew he wouldn’t play ‘The Way it Is’, or indeed anything from that first LP.
On stage when we arrived was an extremely long Steinway grand piano. OK, so this was going to be ‘An AudienceWith’…as indeed it was. Using only some synthesiser gadget which brought string chords to the slower numbers, Bruce gave us 150 minutes of brilliant brilliant music from his enormous repertoire. The thing about Bruce’s songs is that every one is different yet every one is the same…meaning that the chord and note sequences follow the same pattern they ever have, and at the same time each one has its own freshness. Combining old songs with pieces from the soundtrack of an upcoming Spike Lee movie and a new musical, with warm and entertaining chat, the even got better as it went on. Initially sitting quite formally upright, the evening ended with his chin almost on the keyboard and at one point simultaneously performing a half lotus with one leg! It will be pointless to talk about other songs, partly because there were unfamiliar, but largely because, if you know Hornsby’s style, you know how good they are going to be. I would just highlight his interpretation of Bonnie’s Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” .
And did he play “The Way it is”? – yes he did, as well as “Mandolin Rain”, citing the UK being the first country to recognise his first as the reason he was breaking his elf-imposed rule never to perform it in public