Willie Nile @ The Linda 2-18-22 Review and Photos -By: Ed Conway
Written by Staff on February 20, 2022
Singer/Songwriter/Guitar Slinger, Willie Nile made a stop to WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium on a cold, winter night for the umpteenth time. Neither he, nor General Manager Peter Hughes, seemed sure how many times he’s appeared at one of his regular stops, but one of the photos adorning the walls of the venue is his, looking down on the stage. Born Robert Noonan, in Buffalo NY, Nile explained where he got his stage name from. It stems from a NYC Open Mic night, where every time he appeared, he’d give the host a different name, and at some point, Willie Nile stuck and has followed him ever since. Normally appearing with a full band, Nile chose to appear as a solo on this night, as, he said, he hasn’t done so very many times over the years. He pulled it off quite well as he mixed music and stories throughout the night and really kept the audience well engaged.
The evening started off with the title track to “Places I Have Never Been.” Nile then spent the evening going back and forth between songs and stories which showed his self-deprecating sense of humor. He also switched between acoustic guitar and piano, which led him to quip about not being very good at piano, despite playing since he was 8, he lied, by the way, he was quite good at it. Coming from a musical family, Nile definitely inherited his musical talent from his family. His Grandfather was a band leader who worked 6 days a week, and afterwards would head out to lead a Vaudeville band.
Throughout the evening, Nile also had a nice mix of slow, heartfelt tunes, such as, “The Crossing”, from American Ride, “I Will Stand”, from his latest album, The Day The Earth Stood Still, dedicated to his wife and his newly married niece, and “The Innocent Ones”, from the album of the same name, dedicated to the people of Ukraine. These slow tempo tunes were sprinkled nicely among the up-tempo songs, such as “New York Is Rockin’” (album title track) and “House Of A Thousand Guitars” (album title track), the latter got the audience really rocking. Nile also took us along on a tour of the US with the title track from “American Ride.”
Nile did a masterful job of getting the audience involved in his world. While he was playing a solo show, he conducted the near capacity crowd as if they were his backing band. Every time he asked them to clap, sing or get louder, they would. They even followed his intensity as he ebbed and flowed as the song dictated, building to a standing ovation. As the show came to a close with “One Guitar” (off The Innocent Ones), He dispensed with the Cliched practice of walking off stage waiting to build the audience before triumphantly returning for the “surprise” encore. Instead, he asked the audience if they wanted one more, and, after a unanimous, YES, strapped his guitar back on and went into “Little Light” from House Of A Thousand Guitars.
At one point, Nile called his 104 year old father so that we could all say hello. It was easy to see where Nile gets his sense of humor and his humanity. I sure hope if I live that long, I can be as sharp and active as his father, who apparently just got back from playing cards with friends. When asked if he won, he replied he had, as the winner at the end of the night is the biggest liar.
I hope to see Nile with his band the next time, but as a solo act, he was charismatic and, most importantly, entertaining. So, if he wants to play solo again, I’ll be there. That says a lot, since I generally don’t care much for solo singers/guitarists outside of a bar setting. There have been some huge exceptions to my opinion, such as Elvis Costello, and now, Willie Nile.