Nick Lowe Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - September 15, 2004

Who is Nick Lowe? Easy. He wrote the Elvis Costello hit "(What's So Funny) 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding." He produced the first Damned album. His hits include "Heart of the City," "Cruel to be Kind" and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass." Together with Dave Edmonds, he played in a great rock'n'roll band called Rockpile. He was married to Carlene Carter (of the Carter-Cash clan). Armed with a well EQed acoustic guitar and joined halfway through the set by journeyman deluxe Geraint Watkins on piano, Lowe went on a "troll through his back catalogue," much to the pleasure of the senior citizens who packed Lee's, midsection to midsection. Looking good and sounding even better at age 55, Lowe propelled the hour-long set in an even and deft manner, eliminating highs and lows, but this adoring crowd was content with "steady as she goes." Some songs, like "Has She Got a Friend?" and "Lately I've Let Things Slide," alluded to George Jones's styling. Others, like "I Trained Her to Love Me," delivered an Everley-like guitar chug. This song showed Lowe at his most persuasive, drawing the crowd into unfamiliar material with witty lyrics and grade A hooks. The darker material, like "The Kind of Man I've Become" and "The Beast In Me" (written for former father-in-law Johnny Cash), were never in danger of going too deep but that's why Lowe will be remembered more as a songwriter than a performer. The hits "Cruel to be Kind" and "What's So Funny" were treated, by the throng at least, as sing-alongs. Why can't rock audiences age as gracefully as Lowe and Watkins?