Robert Gordon grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, where at the age of nine he heard the Elvis Presley song "Heartbreak Hotel" playing on the radio and decided to become a rock and roll singer. He made his recording debut at age 17 in 1964 with the Confidentials. Gordon moved to New York City in 1970 and in 1974 became the lead singer of a punk rock band, the Tuff Darts. Just as the band was about to sign a record deal in 1976, Gordon went solo and recorded his first love, rockabilly music, collaborating with guitarists Link Wray and later Chris Spedding. Gordon's 12th and most recent album, I'm Coming Home, was released on June 24, 2014.
The 68-year-old Gordon brought a retro set to the Bowery Electric tonight. Much of the repertoire was comprised of songs recorded by other artists in the 1950s and which Gordon has been singing since the 1970s. Even a modern song like Marshall Crenshaw's "Walk Hard" was given the same old-timey treatment that Gordon gave to Jack Scott's "The Way I Walk," Johnny Cash's "Sea of Heartbreak," the Everly Brothers' "So Sad," Johnny Horton's "I'm Coming Home" and Johnny Burnette's "The Fool." Almost 60 years after Gordon first had the dream of singing these songs, he still gave them the Presley-esque baritone, even when he messed up Presley's "Devil in Disguise" mid-song and wound up singing Presley's "Suspicion" instead. Accompanied by a simple but very able guitar-bass-drums trio led by Rob Stoner, Gordon proved he was not a throwback but a classic.