Eric Andersen. Pic: Carol Rothman

The American singer-songwriter Eric Andersen played some of his best known songs and arrangements when his five stop tour bought him to Lichfield Guildhall.

Eric Andersen. Pic: Carol Rothman

With little more than an acoustic guitar, a keyboard, an age and care-worn voice and some of the most bitingly poetic lyrics, he kept the audience spellbound as he dug into his back catalogue that has won him fans from Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and any song-writer worth mentioning, and seen him sharing stages with some of the most iconoclastic groups of the 1960’s, and 1970’s, ranging from The Band to The Grateful Dead.

He developed his style and sound in the same 1960’s New York cafés and bars as Bob Dylan, developing a persuasive, melodic guitar style, and songs that ranged from righteous anger at the politicians of the day, to some of the most affecting love poetry put to music.

His songs have been covered by such performers as Ricky Nelson, Judy Collins, Fairport Convention, Peter Paul and Mary, The Grateful Dead, and Mary Chapin Carpenter, showing both their range and versatility, and over 45 years and 25 albums,and although the songs could be loosely described as folk, there were also departures into Blues, Appalachian bluegrass, and chamber jazz.

With the soundscapes also helped by the virtuoso violin of Michele Gazin, pizzicato violin,some lyrical soloing and rhythmic playing from both performers, this was a night of contrasts.

The concert started with Sweetheart Love of Mine, with Andersen’s voice a burnished fusion of Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash, whilst there was also a vocal sound that was not dissimilar to Dylan’s, as the two shared influences when they were developing their song-craft.

The bitter side of love was also approached in such songs as When You Still Cared, or the gently affecting Worry About Me No More. A different mood was struck for the Bluegrass rhythm of Going, gone, while Dance of Love and Death was a brooding meditation, but perhaps the best song was saved until the last song of the first set.

Blue River saw Andersen on Piano, for this intensely sad song, that also featured one of the violin highlights of the night, in Gazin dazzling, emotional playing.

The second half of concert was lighter, with more of a blues tinge to many of the songs, and many anecdotes from Andersen’s long, storied career. Deeper Into You also featured Andersen’s dextrous keyboard playing, but the rockier sound of Rain Falls Down in Amsterdam showed of Andersen’s voice.

The talent of these two performers, the acoustics of the Guildhall, and some excellent sound engineering meant that this was a night to be long remembered.