Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nick Lowe: A Most Charming, Witty Rocker

There are few musicians who craft lyrics the way Nick Lowe and John Hiatt do. They were band mates in Little Village and have played on each others records. Nick does a great cover of Hiatt's She Don't Love Nobody , a Hiatt. Although their style is different, their similarities were apparent in Nick's performance Wednesday night in New York. They're master storytellers, who tells it like it is.

Has She Got A Friend, elicited a few chuckles with its opening lines:

I'm so glad to hear about
the true happiness you've found and how your retched life has been turned around I can try to achieve joy for your empty nights now at an end but what I really want to know is Has She Got A Friend?

Who else could make the word retched work so well in a song? Well maybe Hiatt who rhymed the word somnambulist in Ride Along (Sometimes that girl she'll slip you a kiss/ But she's just another somnambulist).

Lowe has an understated delivery which could be mistaken as mushy pop if you're not paying attention. He writes unforgettable melodies, but listen for the lyrics because there's always a point. He was amazed that people applauded his performance of I Trained Her To Love Me (I trained her to love me so I can go ahead and break her heart). It's a crazy rant from a serial heartbreaker, who knows he'll end up alone and miserable, but can't help himself.

Classic songs take on a new life with his stripped down arrangements including Heart, which goes from an upbeat Rock Around The Clock to a sentimental ode to love. Without Love, When I Write the Book, Cruel To Be Kind and What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding (which becomes increasingly relevant with each decade) are timeless gems.

At the urging of an audience member, he pulled off an impromptu version of Heart Of the City. Another yelled out Marie Provost, but alas he did not take him up on it. She was a winner who became the doggie's dinner, but not part of the music Wednesday night. Nick Lowe is a man for all musical seasons.

Nick played at the relatively new City Winery. You would think a place that names itself that would pride themselves on wine. Ten minutes after being seated and given menus and a wine list, no one came by to take our order. Turns out we were in "bar seats" although the bar was half a venue away. The bartender told me he was swamped and couldn't help me. When I asked if the other bartender could take our order, he shot back "what do you want?" He poured a 3 oz glass of riesling for $12 and emptied prosecco from two different bottles into one glass. Nuff said? Our seats were "obstructed view". They should rename these seats "no view". There are massive pillars just past the stage, making it impossible to see Nick. We had to move ourselves and stand through the set. If you plan on seeing a show there, make sure you have one of the six tables directly in front of the stage or you'll be craning all night. Great performance, subpar venue.

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