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Willie Nile Trio ~ 2014 January 3 ~ Club Passim ~ Cambridge, MA

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Willie Nile, guitar, piano, lead vocals; Johnny Pisano, bass, backing vocals; Peter Hoffman, lead guitar.

Set List

Run - Far Green Hills - Life on Bleecker Street - The Innocent Ones - That's the Reason - Vagabond Moon - Sing Me a Song - Sunrise in New York City (piano) - The Crossing (piano) - Across the River (piano) - When Levon Sings - American Ride - Sweet Jane {Lou Reed} - House of a Thousand Guitars - Les Champs-Élysées - One Guitar ... encore ... Road to Calvary

Scroll down past the video for review and photo gallery.


"Life on Bleecker Street":


Willie Nile
Willie Nile
Click on the picture
to see a photo gallery of the concert

There was a pretty big snowstorm, but it was the light fluffy stuff so Concert Going Partner and I managed to dig ourselves out and make it to Club Passim in time for the show, where we shared two front tables with our new friend Jim, his young son Traigh who is a huge Willie fan, and two other young family members. It was in the single digits outside with wind chill well below zero, and although the room was full I didn't warm up until the band launched into "House of a Thousand Guitars." I don't think I've ever been this cold inside a venue. One of the pictures in the gallery to the right shows Johnny Pi clenching his hands to try to keep them warm. The stage at Passim opens out to an emergency exit in the back and I don't think this old basement is particularly well insulated.

The night might've been cold cold cold, but the band were hot hot hot. As we have come to expect for a Boston area gig, Peter Hoffman was on lead guitar. He played the entire show. Whenever Peter's in the band we can expect to hear some of the early songs like "Sing Me a Song" (Pete Townshend's favorite Willie Nile song) and "Vagabond Moon." We can also expect Willie to recount some stories about the olden days when his original band, including Peter and one other lead guitarist, opened for The Who on a national tour. The stories touched upon John Lennon, Levon Helm, and Lou Reed. While recording with Yoko Ono at the same New York studio where Willie was cutting Golden Down, John Lennon borrowed some guitar strings from Willie and later wrote him a thank you note, but it was the last thank you note John was ever to write.

A truly touching tribute to Lou Reed followed; Willie had the chance to see him in his final days, and the band nailed a perfect rendition of "Sweet Jane" in honor of Lou. Johnny Pi also snuck a few notes of the iconic bass riff from "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" into "One Guitar." Also honored in memory by a song was Levon Helm, with Willie's new song "When Levon Sings."

I don't mean to indicate that the show was sad. Willie might pay tribute to those who have gone to the other side, but he does so with joy and gratitude for the time these individuals spent on this plane, and the music they gave to us during their time. And it's impossible to feel sad when listening to truly rousing numbers like "Life on Bleecker Street" (where Johnny really shines on backing vocals and bass), "Run," "House of a Thousand Guitars," or "Les Champs-Élysées." This last song is a singalong of Biblical proportions; Willie has this cute way of leaning his ear toward the audience to indicate he wants to hear us singing.

Willie, Johnny and Peter were on their way to Londonderry, NH the next night, and Willie has quite an extensive tour scheduled over the next few months, promoting his wonderful new album, American Ride, recently named Album of the Year by Twangville. I'll be looking forward to seeing him at the Iron Horse in May.

More Willie

Here is a page with a handy list of links to all pages on this website with content relating to Willie Nile.

Click for 2014 Concert Page with links to all 2014 concerts ... Click for Main Concert Page with links to all years

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