Dan Burn-Forti Nick Lowe has worn more than a few hats during his four…
- Posted on Oct 25th 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Jordi Vidal, Redferns
"All these years coming here, and this is my first time going over the water," Lowe said.
He was in good spirits, and looking sharp in black Buddy Holly specs and a pompadour as white as his button-down shirt, the legendary pub-rocking, power-popping singer-songwriter drew songs from throughout his 40-plus year career.
Taking full advantage of the upright bass at the center of his band, Lowe strummed an acoustic guitar and focused on swinging rockabilly tunes. Among the best was 'I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll),' an appropriate selection, given that the Bell House had hosted a wedding earlier in the evening.
Lowe steered clear of 'Jesus of Cool,' the 1978 album that established him as a New Wave icon, but he worked in a couple from the following year's 'Labour of Lust,' including 'Cruel to Be Kind,' his only US Top 40 hit. After three decades, that tune remains a crowd-pleaser, and fans sang along with every word.
"Oh, I see, you just came for the pop stuff," Lowe said.
In fact, Sunday's audience was plenty acquainted with the singer's deeper cuts, and he fared nearly as well with his '50s-style rockers, country weepers and folky ballads. On 'You Inspire Me,' from 1998's 'Dig My Mood' -- the middle entry in a trilogy of latter-day albums recently rereleased by Yep Roc -- Lowe played jazz crooner, switching off the reverb vocal effects and showcasing his thick, grandfatherly voice.
He ended with '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,' released in 1974 by his then-band Brinsley Schwarz. Written as a tongue-in-cheek dig on hippie idealism and later transformed into an angry punk anthem by Elvis Costello, the song took on new meaning Sunday night. Lowe sang it with the gentle sincerity, refusing to let sadness turn to cynicism, leaving America with something bordering on hope.