Review by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“It’s a great pleasure to be here. My pleasure is tinged with anxiety – like a young bride on her wedding night,” quipped Nick Lowe near the start of his show in The Egg’s Swyer Theatre. “I’ve been in this position so many times, but you still feel like you’re on the edge of the unknown…. There are so many things that can go wrong.”
But really, other than a microphone that needed adjusting to better accommodate his lanky frame, there was little wrong with Lowe’s Egg performance – the opening night of a solo tour in support of his latest album on Yep Roc Records, The Old Magic.
Lowe just has a natural way of relating to the audience and, of course, a back catalogue well worth trawling through. His latest albums are great too, and Lowe at 63 still has an amazing silver-toned voice and a persona that’s aged quite well – as a genteel, sensitive, sharp-witted Brit with glimmers of bad boy that still shine through.
“Lately I’ve Let Things Slide,” from 2001’s The Convincer was, for many, an all-too-familiar tale of a downward spiral marked by hangovers, uneaten takeout and piles of dirty laundry, while “I Trained Her to Love Me” drew laughs for the narrator’s wicked view of relationships and for the devious relish with which Lowe delivered the lyrics.
But though he still looked a bit like a new wave angry young man in dark-rimmed glasses and polka-dotted shirt with sleeves rolled up to the biceps, much of Lowe’s material had a softer edge, including “I Read A Lot” – a resigned metaphor for post-love loneliness – and his slightly mellower take on his paradox-embracing, 1979 power-pop classic “Cruel to Be Kind.”
Lowe gave his newer material – much of it about love, or aspiring love, or expired love – some play, including “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” from his 2007 album, At My Age, and the break-up lament “House for Sale” from his latest. But he closed with mostly oldies, including the touching rave-up “Without Love” from his Labour of Lust days and the rollicking ’70s-hit “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll).”
“You know, I can remember one of the first times I played in Albany with my old band Rockpile,” Lowe said before ending his satisfying Egg performance with an encore that included “When I Write the Book” by Rockpile; a more contemplative than angry version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” and an unexpected cover of his compatriot Elvis Costello’s signature song, “Alison.”
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union’s Art Talk
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Now past 60, Lowe may still be best known from his team-player days in Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile, Cowboy Outfit and Little Village; and as Elvis Costello’s first producer. On Tuesday, he echoed both Costello in high-pathos paeans of loss and Elvis Presley in rollicking rockabilly. He had less voice than both, but as much feel as either. And for all his rough-and-ready reputation as the ‘Basher’ famed for first-take recordings, his mic technique impressed all night… Opener Eleni Mandell comprehensively charmed the two-thirds-full house with a crazy-candid ‘journey through my failed relationships.’ She didn’t need the natural sympathy that greeted her self-definition as a single mom with twins turning 2; instead, she engaged the crowd in terrible, but unfailingly witty, tales of ‘boyfriends, then and now.’”
NICK LOWE SET LIST
What’s Shakin’ on the Hill
Long Limbed Girl
Lately I’ve Let Things Slide
She’s Got Soul
I Trained Her to Love Me
I Live on a Battlefield
I Read A Lot
Cruel to Be Kind
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Somebody Cares For Me
House for Sale
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?
Alison (Elvis Costello)