At age 64, Nick Lowe has mellowed a bit from his power-pop-fuelled days of the 1970s when he was recording and producing for Stiff Records. One listen to his latest album, The Old Magic, and its clear Lowe’s musical heart lies in the past, namely the Tin Pan Alley days of the late fifties and early sixties. His black Buddy Holly-style glasses set off his white hair and serve as a signpost to what type of music we’re in for tonight. Instead of high octane punk, the sounds Lowe and his band make are more reminiscent of the likes of Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers.
After an opening set from Nick’s keyboard player, Geraint Watkins, a fine songwriter and singer in his own rite, Lowe ambled up to the microphone alone and played an acoustic version of Stoplight Roses, the opening track from The Old Magic. Then it was back to 1982 for Heart, before the band joined him on stage.
In addition to Watkins, Lowe was accompanied by double bass player Matt Radford, guitarist Johnny Scott and long-time drummer Bobby Irwin. Scott’s playing was particularly tasty, laying down rockabilly-infused licks during songs like Ragin’ Eyes and Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.
Nick himself was in fine voice, cherry-picking favourites from throughout his long career including Raining Raining from 1982’s Nick The Knife, What Lack Of Love Has Done from 1998’s Dig My Mood and a crowd favourite, Cruel To Be Kind from 1979’s Labour Of Lust.
One surprise was a cover of Gene McDaniels’ 1961 hit Tower Of Strength. The regular set closed with I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll).
The encores featured more treats…first Lowe and Watkins performed Geraint’s Only A Rose. The rest of the band returned for a rousing version of When I Write The Book, a tune Lowe originally recorded with Dave Edmunds and Rockpile in 1980. Next came a hushed version of (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding.
But neither Nick nor the audience were ready to go home. The 50s roots came out again for Tokyo Bay and Go ‘Way Hound Dog, an old Cliff Johnson tune from 1957.
After 22 tunes, Lowe sent the fans packing with an emotional solo performance of Elvis Costello’s Alison.
The evening was really a showcase for Lowe’s well-crafted songs. He proved to be a genial host, talking at length with the crowd. Within a few minute it felt like we were in the company of an old friend.
Musically, the band was impeccable. My one complaint would be that they could have rocked out a little harder on tunes like I Knew The Bride. Oh, and the sound was a bit boomy…with the bass being force too high in the mix at times.
This was rare seated show at The Powerstation and it felt like having Nick Lowe playing in your living room. A fine time was had by all.
Click here to listen to Nick Lowe perform Alison at The Powerstation:
Click here to view Michael Flynn’s photos:
Nick Lowe’s set list:
1. Stoplight Roses
3. What Lack Of Love Has Done
4. Ragin’ Eyes
5. Lately I’ve Let Things Slide
6. Has She Got A Friend?
7. I Trained Her To Love Me
8. I Live On A Battlefield
9. I Read A Lot
10. Cruel To Be Kind
11. Raining Raining
12. Sensitive Man
13. Somebody Cares For Me
14. House For Sale
15. Tower Of Strength
16. Without Love
17. I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock & Roll)
18. Only A Rose
19. When I Write The Book
20. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding
21. Tokyo Bay
22. Go ‘Way Hound Dog