|Taken with my IPhone last night.|
I saw Nick Lowe in concert last night at First Avenue. It was a terrific show. It’s the 4th time I’ve seen Nick live, and he always puts on a great show. I missed Nick when he opened for Wilco last December, so I was very happy that he came to town again so soon. Nick performed with his band of Geriant Watkins on keyboards, Robert Trehern on drums, Johnny Scott on guitar, and Matt Radford on bass. They’re a great backing band, and Geriant is always fun to watch play keyboards. Lowe’s voice is in tremendous shape, and he knows exactly how to use it to get the desired emotional effects. He knows exactly when to turn away from the mike, how close to stand to it, all those little things that add so much to the emotional impact of his songs.
Nick just has such a fun time performing, and he seems so genuinely thrilled by the audience’s response. He looked very sharp, wearing gray dress pants with a colorful shirt-almost a Robyn Hitchcock-like shirt. With his black eyeglasses and his gray hair he looks like a rock and roll version of how Cary Grant looked in the 1960’s. Nick dedicated “Cruel to be Kind” to Dick Clark, who died yesterday, saying that the song wouldn’t have been a hit without Clark’s support. Nick also talked about how happy he was to be starting the tour in the Twin Cities, and how much he likes playing here.
Even though Nick sang more than 20 of his very best songs, he has so many great songs that I can name a bunch of my favorite songs that he didn’t sing. He didn’t sing “Tonight,” “Marie Provost,” “Cracking Up,” “What’s Shakin’ on the Hill?” “Soulful Wind,” “You Inspire Me,” “Lonesome Reverie,” “Homewrecker,” “Let’s Stay in and Make Love,” “Indian Queens,” “Long Limbed Girl,” “People Change,” or “Hope For Us All.” I’m certainly very satisfied with the concert, but my point is that Nick Lowe is such a brilliant songwriter that he has enough great songs to fill two concerts.
Nick changed a lyric in “Raining Raining” slightly, as “hungry lovers out back intent on sharing a snack” turned into: “hungry lovers out back already getting on track.”
The first two times I saw Nick in concert he performed solo, and he’s one of the few performers I’ve seen who can totally hold a room in the palm of his hand with just his voice and guitar. I was thrilled that he sang “Heart” solo, one of my very favorite songs of his. Other highlights were “I Read a Lot,” which is such a gorgeous, aching song, and the other songs from Nick’s latest album “The Old Magic,” “House for Sale,” “Somebody Cares for Me,” and “Sensitive Man,” all great new songs. “The Old Magic” is yet more proof that Nick Lowe is reaching another creative peak as he gets older. “Tower of Strength,” a cover of a Gene McDaniels song was very lovely. I’ve never heard the song before, and only discovered the title through the magic of the internet. The encores were excellent, I always love hearing “When I Write the Book,” and of course “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” was a highlight. The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop as Nick sang it. One final highlight of the night was Nick coming back for a second encore to sing a solo version of Elvis Costello’s “Alison.” (Nick produced Elvis’s original version for his first album “My Aim is True.”) Through YouTube I had heard Nick sing “Alison” for a recent radio broadcast, and I was awestruck by his version. It’s fun to hear a very different version of such a great song. It was another great concert from Nick Lowe!
The songs that Nick sang:
What Lack of Love Has Done
Lately I’ve Let Things Slide
Has She Got a Friend?
I Trained Her to Love Me
I Live on a Battlefield
I Read a Lot
Cruel to be Kind
Somebody Cares for Me
House for Sale
Tower of Strength-cover of a Gene McDaniels song
I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll
When I Write the Book
(What’s so Funny 'bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?
Go Away Hound Dog