Cry Tough

Nils Lofgren

If you want to see just about everything you can of Nils Lofgren live, pick up the new double-DVD set Cry Tough. With performances from Germany's Rockpalast program, these two DVDs feature the short-in-stature-but-huge-in-talent guitarist's live performances from 1976, 1979 and 1991. Over four hours and 35 tracks (but a few repeated), this is a set full of live Nils Lofgren like you've never seen before.

The first disc features 20 tunes from 1991. At the time, Lofgren had come right off the road from his day job with Bruce Springsteen and was touring behind his own Silver Lining release. With just Lofgren and his acoustic, the show opens with "Sticks and Stones" and a fantastic version of "Keith Don't Go" that finds the guitarist showing off his thumb-picking technique. He is joined by his band for "Rock 'N' Roll Crook" and we get some nice feedback on "Cry Tough." This is one of the few times Lofgren is mining semi-John Fogerty, but it's a good, low rumbling song regardless.

"Trouble's Back" is bluesy, while "Girl In Motion" showcases nice harmonics from the bass guitar and Lofgren cutting through with slow, considered leads. There's some excellent volume control diddling on "Valentine," which would have been just as good as an instrumental. Lofgren gets up on the piano for the only time in this concert on "The Sun Has Set." Things gets poppy on tunes like "Silver Lining," the Dire Straits sounding "No Mercy" (which gets a huge response from the German crowd) and the last tune and biggest hit, the superlative boppy, "I Came To Dance."

The second disc has two different performances of Lofgren from the 70s. From 1976, there are nine songs, including an earlier take on "Keith Don't Go," a tight "Cry Tough," the funky "Going Back," a real sweet "Like Rain," and the rocking "Back It Up." Lofgren's best backing band appears in the concert from 1979. This is a 15-song set with "Keith Don't Go," "No Mercy" and "Like Rain," along with "You’re So Easy" and "Heart On Fire." Piano player Tommy Thurston especially shines on this set. What else can you say about Cry Tough? It is, without a doubt, the definitive DVD collection of Nils Lofgren in concert. If you don't get your fix here, you won't get it anywhere else.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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