DATE: Saturday 16th October 2010
VENUE: The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, MK17 8LU
COST: £28.50 plus small booking fee
RATING: Shined, not so silently
The Stables was full and just after 8pm, the lights went up on the stage to reveal Greg Varlotta on keyboards and Nils behind an electric harp. What we were treated to from that point on, for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes (no interval) was pure class.
Alongside us, in the 3rd row, were 3 brothers from Glasgow, one of which had seen the opening night to Nils’ tour, in Basingstoke and all 3 were heading up to Glasgow to see the same show the following week. It was so obvious they loved the man, and were true fans, singing along, giving standing ovations and making the most noise in the crowd! Having said that, the rest of the audience made an awful lot of noise too, especially following Nils’ terrific virtuoso guitar solos which also had the audience on their feet to show their appreciation of such a great performance.
In the 2 hours and 20 minutes, the guy was so cool he never broke a sweat, and treated us to his back catalogue, a new song in tribute to Ray Charles, and some Neil Young songs. Greg really is a multi-instrumentalist, stepping from the keyboards to play trumpet and also guitar at points during the show. Before they left the stage, our ears were really indulged with a fantastic rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night”.
It was hard to believe that such a full sound could emanate from just 2 men. Technology did help, with a looper to keep the guitar track going while Nils performed some incredible finger work (and while he had a sip of tea), the keyboards at one stage sounded like there was a choir humming along in the background, and during “Because the Night” we could hear a drum beat.
One of the biggest cheers of the night was when Greg tap danced a drum beat, while Nils played the guitar, and an even bigger cheer when during the encore, Nils joined him in a bit of a toe tapping session. He was really light on his feet and was a natural mover. The Beeb wondered at what point of rehearsals did the thought come to themselves “Oh, a bit of tap dancing would go down well here!!!”
After such a long show, Nils was very generous with his time and came out to meet the fans afterwards. He really did come across as a very humble man, grateful for all that he’s achieved in life.
We’ve been to the Stables many times before, but never to a performance that has not had an interval. Many in the audience found it hard to stay put for the full show... disappearing off for more beer, or a loo break (one lady went 4 times!!).
Minty hasn’t commented on the facilities for a while – the queues for the ladies were endless at the end of the night which also meant that the loos didn’t flush! They can’t cope with heavy turnover!!!
The Beeb and Nils, after the show
The Beeb and GregVarlotta after the show