Touring the UK for the first time in six years, Greg Trooper with ten albums to his credit, one acoustic guitar in hand and an abundance of ready wit, opened tonight’s show with ‘the hits’ (his words, not mine) before moving into songs from the new album UPSIDE DOWN TOWN which is of course the catalyst for his long awaited return visit.
Starting off with the hook-laden This I’d Do he followed up with Green Eyed Girl - ‘it’s called Green Eyed Girl because Brown Eyed Girl was taken!’ he said causing ripples of laughter throughout and endearing himself to the audience. It’s worth mentioning that on the basis of advance ticket sales and anticipated payers at the door, seats were set out but in the event, and pleasingly so, it was necessary to rearrange the room to accommodate larger than expected numbers!
He played We Won’t Dance but not before regaling us with the story of how it came to be recorded by Vince Gill on his WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME album in 1989. Trooper, when first approached about the cover, thought ‘who the (expletive deleted) is Vince Gill? Okay let him cover it, I might be able to help his career’ Needless to say Trooper subsequently found out just who Vince Gill was!
Only two songs from the new album featured in the first set, these were They Call Me Hank (which one highly respected critic is suggesting is a contender for ‘Song of the Year) and a ballad, Second Wind. One of the older songs performed was When I Think Of You My Friends which includes the lines:
‘Sleepers, weepers, faithless leapers
Up to ten, 12-inch speakers,
Send them in to Karl, they'll need an overhaul’
The ‘Karl’ of the song was in the audience, having travelled from Spain for the show. He and Trooper go back a long way and it is moments like this that give you the measure of the man – loyal, fun and inspiring huge affection. That song, a tribute to all travelling musicians closed out the first set.
Returning after a short break, Trooper said that he’d received so many requests during the interval that he had to change his planned set list. Six requests therefore followed (Those Sunday Nights, Lucky That Way, I Love It When She Lies, Little Sister, Hummingbird and Muhammad Ali (The Meaning of Christmas) after which he ‘got back to the new album’ with three more offerings and then going right back in time with Ireland from his 1992 debut EVERYWHERE.
He wasn’t going to get away without an encore from the highly appreciative audience so returning with a ‘you okay with country?’ he yodelled his way into Hank Williams’ Long Gone Lonesome Blues and then completed the show with one of his own songs because ‘people only remember the last song you play’ - Hannah’s Dreams.
This audience will remember much, much more than the last song. Without doubt Trooper is one of the most underappreciated singer/songwriters on the circuit. The two varied sets were testament to his versatility as both a writer and performer. He tackles alt-country, roots, Americana, folk, blues and soul all with equal aplomb. He deserves much greater success and as he left the stage with a message for the audience - ‘keep on dreamin’ everybody’ you only hope that his own dreams come true. They certainly deserve to. Jela Webb
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