Folk In The Park - Nick Lowe
Technically the first ever live act your humble reviewer ever saw was Nick Lowe - it was a special Kampuchea Fundraiser where Nick and his band Rockpile opened an evenings entertainment that included Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Paul McCartney - compered by Billy Connolly - as first shows go it was a belter. Having followed him through his various incarnations solo or with Little Village or more recently with the masked Los Straitjackets he can always be relied on to come with a bag of tunes and an anecdote or two. His stock as a solo performer could not be higher with his recent string of albums have all garnering glowing reviews.
With former band members Geriant Watkins and Paul "Bassman" Riley having played earlier in the day there was a faint hope of some sort of band appearance however today would be a strictly solo affair although as he took the short walk from his dressing room tent to the stage, he could not have imagined that one man and an acoustic guitar would seem to cause some initial problems for the sound guys who had to be repeatedly asked to turn the onstage monitors down.
The first few numbers "Man That I've Become", "People Change", "Long Limbed Girl" were delivered with a slightly distracted air. This was an audience of definite Nick Lowe fans and soon the sound issues were behind us for "Lately I've Let Things Slide" for which Nick provided his own trumpet impression.
Dressed in an open collar shirt with dark glasses Nick would dip into all areas of his catalogue, in truth if he had played for an extra hour there would still have been plenty that would have been omitted.
Classic songs from the Lowe repertoire continued to come "Love Is A Battlefield" drew huge appreciation. The key to Nick's later work is simplicity, "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" packs in lots, yet never feels rushed on this tale of trying to win affection. Still an old rocker at hear, one of his more recent songs "Tokyo Bay" shows he can still pen a great tune and rock out!
Nick's tribute to the Bee Gee's is always welcome, his teasing introduction and gentle guitar intro give little hint of what is to come. He'll stop just before the chorus to ask the crowd if they know what it is - being hardened fans they not only reply "Yes" but join in with a singalong. Nick goes for the less obvious choice in "Heartbreaker" as performed famously by Dionne Warwick, his version slowed and with emphasis on certain lines "This world will end - not you and I" seemed to give it much more gravitas - it also highlighted that #TEAMw21 have been mishearing the lyrics for years.
Always somewhat self depricating of his own talents, his tale of getting a song recorded by Mavis Staples is an absolute hoot, yet "Far Celestial Shores" proves to be a touching tune and for those dedicated to then look up Mavis's version, will find her sounding remarkably like Nick himself! No Nick Lowe set would be complete without "Cruel To Be Kind", the affection with which this mid teens hit from the late seventies is held is remarkable - it instantly sees smiles break out across the audience as they burst into voice once again.
Time with Nick Lowe always passes annoyingly quickly the final salvo of "Heart" and "I Knew The Bride" chosen over "Peace Love & Understanding" brought his time with us to a close far too soon. Top marks for Folk In The Park for booking him and many thanks to Nick still providing cracking entertainment just as he did on that night in 1979.