Concert Review: Willie Nile by “Rock With The Ashe”

Willie Nile City Winery New York City – September 6, 2017.

Willie Nile the Buffalo New York native who has called New York City home for several decades returned to City Winery for a sold-out show. It’s like a family and friends reunion where everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows Willie. 

Willie Nile’s band consists of Nile on lead vocals and guitar, Matt Hogan on lead guitar, Johnny Pisano on bass and Jon Webber on drums. Nile and his tight band played eighteen songs over two hours. Nile is supporting his latest album Positively BobWillie Nile Sings Bob Dylan, an outstanding album consisting of Dylan’s songs reinterpreted with Nile’s unique flair. 

The show started off with two of the songs from his new album, "The Times They Are a-Changin,'" a rollicking version which sets the pace for the rest of the show. Next up was "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which was updated again with Nile’s spin to the updated version of the song. 

The crowd enjoyed both songs and sang with Nile’s creating one big voice. "Forever Wild" off of Nile's album World War Willie has a great chorus and that is what truly makes a Willie Nile concert an experience, it’s all about having a good time and singing along with the band. Willie has been around for a very long time and hasn’t really made it into the mainstream, but he has a core group of devoted fans that are trying to spread the 'Willie Nile Gospel.'

:Life On Bleecker Street" is another one of the quintessential Nile songs that were made for the live experience and Nile and the band was really feeling the song. "Grandpa Rocks" are also off of World War Willie and as the name indicates is a Romantics (group) type rocker. Nile told a story about his granddaughter who always says to him, “Grandpa Rocks.” 

Next up was "Bad Boy" and it was an ode to Quentin Tarantino. Matt Hogan on lead guitar had a great solo where he really showed his chops. For "Heaven Help The Lonely," Nile goes way back in his catalog to 1991. Next Nile takes it down a notch for "She’s Got My Heart" with a nice acoustic version of the song. 

"The Midnight Rose" brought the electric guitars and "Hell Yeah" was a fun audience participation number where Hogan and Johnny Pisano on a bass rocked out. For the second half of the set Nile brings out more Dylan songs and James Maddock to sit in for some of the songs on guitar and vocals. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is with Maddock and is one of the Dylan classics. 

Nile and the band don’t disappoint. "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is also with Maddock. Nile really makes one of Dylan’s most famous songs totally his own and again a great crowd pleaser. 

The next four songs are all rousing Nile anthems. "Hard Times In America," "House Of A Thousand Guitars," "Blowin’ In The Wind" (even though it’s a Dylan song) with Maddock who also appears on the classic, "One Guitar." For the two-song encore Nile performs another oldie (1991) from his catalog, "Children Of Paradise" and the classic Dylan song "You Ain't Goin’ Nowhere" with Maddock. 

Willie Nile and his band are great performers, the sold-out crowd and this reviewer had a great time singing along and dancing. If you ever get a chance to see Willie Nile, run don’t walk to a show. He’s currently on tour through the winter of 2018. 

He’ll also be back at City Winery in October. @willie.nile 

 Set List:

The Times They Are a-Changin' (Bob Dylan Cover) 
Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan Cover) 
Forever Wild Life 
On Bleecker Street 
Grandpa Rocks 
Bad Boy 
Heaven Help The Lonely 
She’s Got My Heart 
The Midnight Rose
 Hell Yeah A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan Cover) w/James Maddock 
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob Dylan Cover) w/James Maddock 
Hard Times In America House 
Of A Thousand Guitars Blowin’ In The Wind (Bob Dylan Cover) w/James Maddock 
One Guitar w/James Maddock 

Children Of Paradise 
You Ain't Goin’ Nowhere w/James Maddock.