Monday, October 19, 2009

It'll Be A Pop Publication, Tougher Than Tough

So that just happened.1 After a decade-plus of marveling at his songwriting, blasting Jesus of Cool loud enough to alienate my neighbors at six different addresses and wearing a Labour of Lust t-shirt that has--so far--outlasted all of my relationships, I finally FINALLY had the chance to see Nick Lowe in concert.2

He and his Gibson J-45 captivated the sold-out crowd packed into the tiny Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia and it was the best seventy-five minutes I've ever spent without removing any clothing. He played twenty-one songs, each one featuring a lyric or a sentiment that will linger in your head--or your heart--long after he's moved on to the next. I'll do a full review for BitchBuzz, dumping at least a thousand words onto the internet and, even then, it'll feel like I've left something out.

For both those of you who dig this kind of thing, the set list was:

People Change
Ragin' Eyes
What's Shakin' On The Hill?
Long-Limbed Girl
Lately I've Let Things Slide
Has She Got a Friend?
All Men Are Liars
When I Write the Book
I Read A Lot3
Cruel to Be Kind4
The Kind of Man I've Become
I Live On a Battlefield
I Trained Her to Love Me
Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
Without Love
I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

Soulful Wind
Seven Nights to Rock
The Beast in Me

With the exception of three tracks, Nick's entire set can be found on Quiet Please, his recently-released two-disc greatest hits bonanza. I could go on about how it's an excellent way to hear the evolution of his sound, from spiky new-waver to soul-soaked crooner, but I'll just assume that you'll check it out for yourself. Then we can talk about it over appetizers at The Cheesecake Factory.

Anyway, I'm not sure I moved until the house lights came up after the encore and--for someone who can barely finish a package of Saltines without getting distracted--that speaks to the power of Mister Lowe and his acoustic guitar. Seriously, I've had sexual experiences that didn't keep my attention that long. Just ask my neighbors.

1 Yes, that is a poorly-cropped shot of my Stiff Records "So It Goes"/"Heart of the City" 45 that Mr. Lowe was kind enough to drag a Sharpie across after the concert. I may or may not still be clutching it.

2 This year, I've been lucky enough to see all three of my favorite Englishmen, with Nick neatly inked into that lineup along with Robyn Hitchcock and Elvis Costello. Now that I've crossed this concert off my To-Do list, I fully expect to die in my sleep.

3 This song is as-yet unrecorded and he introduced it by saying "When you hear the statement 'I'd like to play a new song for you', does your heart sink?" When he's the one asking the question, no way. My tiny heart floats like a fourth grader's neglected goldfish.

Some of his best songs have a timeless quality, like you could've dropped a needle and played them pretty much any time between 1955 and yesterday. "I Read A Lot" is one of those, a song channeling the late Arthur Alexander with its simple arrangement that gives the words the chance to hit you right in the chest and none of you are still reading this, are you?

4 If you've heard of Nick Lowe before I gushed all over the internet about him, it's because of this song. It's been spun by mainstream radio and soundtracking your meals at chain restaurants since the late seventies...and I'm not being critical. It's a great song. When I told a friend of mine I was coming to this show, she asked what he sang and I namedropped this one. "Holy shit!" she said, "10 Things I Hate About You!"

I thought she was going to start cataloging my flaws, before realizing she meant the soundtrack to that flick, when Letters to Cleo covered it. There's just no reason that Nick Lowe should have to be explained using Julia Stiles movies. There's no reason anything should be described that way, even other Julia Stiles movies.


The Imaginary Reviewer said...

So which Englishmen are left on your list? Or have you exhausted your Limey quota for this century now?

miss. chief said...

What appetizers at the cheesecake cafe? Tiny cheesecakes? If so, I'm in.

Mary said...

Saw him Friday night in CT, and I don't think I moved for the entire set, either. At some point I realized that despite the fact that he's 60 and looks like my grandpa, I'd run away with him. My only complaint was that he didn't play every song he's ever written.

Holly A Hughes said...

Dying here...just dying. How cool of you to get him to sign a Stiff single instead of some Greatest Hits box set! And you got Seven Nights to Rock, too -- we didn't in New York (possibly because the New York crowd steadfastly REFUSED to rock, the idiots...). I'm not even going to ask if it was everything you expected it to be. I know Nick is never gonna give you up or let you down....

nycwhofan said...

I've seen Nick at Zankel Hall, against stage looking up his nose at Bowery Ballroom, Joe's Pub (sitting on a couch right a table-length away from him) and last week one person away from stage at City Winery, but I never have the nerve to go up to him before or after show. I don't know why, other than I'd be all hummina hummina - he's friendly and charming as hell. I'm jealous of your Stiff record signature.

Spender said...

Nick Lowe is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and icon.
I'm glad you were able to see him perform and thrilled that others love him as much as I do.
Congratulations and thanks!

Phil said...

I'm not sure you were referencing me as one of the two people who'd care, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that you were.

He played a pretty similar set at Hardly Strictly, as if it wasn't enough for me to pee my pants when he took the stage with Boz Scaggs for a few tunes.

I've got pictures and stories to come from that, if I can ever manage to take a moment and yank the pictures off my camera and onto my computer.

J-Money said...

Imaginary Reviewer: Oh, I'll never run out of Englishmen. Musically speaking, I'll add Morrissey, Richard Thompson and Ray Davies. And, of course, Hugh Laurie.

miss.chief: There's some kind of fried macaroni plate that I'm fond of. We'll sit at the table beside the defibrillator.

Mary: I would run off with him tonight, no questions asked. Swoonage. Major swoonage.

Holly: First, next Nick Lowe Season, we're attending a show together. And then we're taking him out afterwards. No, I'm not kidding. Next, it was absolutely fantastic and beyond worth the ten hours (round trip) I spent in the car. My Stiff BUY 1A single has already been framed, of course.

NYCWhoFan: I have no problem chatting artists up after the show. I do have a problem saying mindblowingly dumb shit. This time, though, I held it together for three or four minutes although I'm pretty sure I shook his hand, like, nine times and I'm not sure I even turned my headlights on for the drive back to my hotel.

I just wish I'd offered to take him out for a drink. No kidding.

Spender: A-Effing-Men. I just can't believe that, when I mention his name, people respond with the same expression my dog gives when I pretend to throw a tennis ball. How does everyone not know about this man?

Phil Since there's a 99% chance I'll be living on the west coast when the next Hardly Strictly rolls around, I'll be there soiling myself with you.

Maxie said...

yes! cruel to be kind. I know that it's completely cliche of me to freak out over the one song I know, but I really like that song. And for some reason I thought it was by the girl group that's in the movie. You have set my record straight.