Live Review – Nick Lowe with Los Straitjacket
The Gov, Sunday 23rd February 2020
Words – Geoff Jenke & Gareth Hickery
Jim Lauderdale, on his first visit to Adelaide, impressed those who arrived early by playing a variety of songs from his lengthy career. Displaying the collegiate approach of many Nashville songwriters his set comprised of collaborations with Buddy Miller, Logan Ledger, and Robert Hunter. “I Love You More” from “London Southern” was a highlight as was his tribute to George Jones, “King of Tears”, an epithet apparently first used by Gram Parsons. Lauderdale’s forty-minute set ended all too soon and his popularity was in evidence at the merchandise table as a queue formed to meet the man and take away his current release.”
When Nick Lowe’s backing band first walked out on stage, you would not have been far wrong thinking you were at the wrong concert. Dressed all in black and wearing wrestling masks, was this a secret KISS gig. No, it was surf/rock/garage band, Los Straitjacket, there to provide the wonderful tunes for Nick Lowe. Nick himself looked totally resplendent in white shirt, black trousers and Buddy Holly glasses.
Lowe started proceedings with a rousing So It Goes from his 1978 classic album Jesus of Cool. No break and into Ragin’ Eyes (1983’s The Abominable Showman) and then Without Love from what is probably his best-known album, Labour of Love from 1979. People wandered onto the dance floor to take photo’s and Nick and the band responded by posing for the photos.
Generally, Nick let the music do the talking but at this stage he thanked us for coming out, “Adelaide has many distractions and attractions this time of year, so thank you to take your money to come and see me”. He promised a few songs that anyone walking off the street who didn’t know who he was, would know, some for those who like to trawl his catalogue, a couple of covers and even a few new songs. “yes, I know the sinking feeling in the stomach when an artist says they are going the play songs off the new album, I have been in audiences”.
Next up he played a beautiful ballad in You Inspire Me from a later 1998 album Dig My Mood with a very nice guitar solo from Eddie Angel, in the middle. But Nick is here to rock and the next four songs did just that, culminating with 2018’s Tokyo Bay, a song that became a bit of a hit for Nick “so thank you to those who helped make it so.”
Nick then told us he was going to check his accounts or have a bath or something while leaving us in the capable hands of Los Straitjacket. I was surprised the dance floor wasn’t used during Nick’s set but as soon Los Straitjackets fired up the first riffs to Kawanga! people spilled out onto the floor. The band powered through half a dozen power surf rock instrumentals which included a magnificent cover of the Easybeats Friday On My Mind with the audience supplying the vocals. During Itchy Chicken they bought out a rubber chicken, complete with mask, to provide “vocals” and was passed around the band to use. Even a boomerang was bought out and used to play the guitar. Los Straitjacket certainly know how to play great rock n roll music.
Nick reappeared with a change of shirt (had he really had a bath?) and opened set two with another number from the Jesus of Cool album, I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass. This time the crowd stayed at the front of stage dancing to the tunes. During the run home he played a couple of tracks from the Love Starvation/Trombone EP he recorded with Los Straight Jacket, a couple of new tracks before finishing with the afore mentioned “songs that anyone walking off the street who didn’t know who he was, would know” in Cruel to Be Kind and I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock n Roll), working the Adelaide Intercontinental Hotel into the lyrics. The band also all got to provide a brief solo, the highlight being the drum solo, complete with drummer, “Gringo Starr”, playing with the rubber chicken at one stage.
The encore commenced with Los Straitjacket playing a cover of the Benny Goodman song Sing Sing Sing before Nick Lowe rejoined for the two-song encore of When I Write the Book and (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding, a song Nick had a hit with while in the band Brinsley Schwarz back in the seventies.
The set list said that was it but the passionate fans howled for more and Nick obliged with a solo acoustic version of Elvis Costello’s Alison.
A beautiful way to finish a wonderful evening.
A bit of trivia – Nick Lowe produced what is considered the first English punk single in The Damned’s New Rose as well as their debut single.