Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This article originally appeared in the 8.29.13 issue of Metroland

Nick Lowe
Club Helsinki
August 21, 2013

            I’ve been telling everyone within earshot how much better Nick Lowe was at Helsinki last week than he was two years ago at the Linda.   Then I dug out my review of that show, discovered that it actually took place over 5 years ago (!!!).  Reading my gushy unqualified rave, I realized that  Helsinki show was, on paper, virtually the same show, and in fact, I could easily change a few words and turn in my 2008 review now and it would be accurate.

            But it wasn’t the same show, not by a long shot.  Despite my drooling in 2008 (Fanboy?  Moi?  Absolutely!), my current recollection of that show (and I saw him the next night in Northampton, too) is that something was missing, something I can’t put into words.  Like solo Nick was strumming and singing and looking around for his band. Although maybe it was that I was looking around for his band.  It generally struck me as a great show for Lowe fans, but maybe just a tolerable one for everyone else.

            In any event, last week’s show at a jam-packed Helsinki (a packed Helsinki is as wonderfully cozy and intimate as the old micro-Helsinki was) was full, universal, warm, human... Nick’s voice was incredible, he was utterly comfortable, and delivered every twisted and tragi-comic nuance of his remarkable songs with élan and grace.  The transformation from Basher to timeless troubadour appears to be complete.

            Opening with Rockpile’s “Heart” (name a better pop song.  Name one), Nick wandered mainly through his rich recent catalog, singing sweet (“Where Is My Everything”), sad (“House For Sale”, “I’ve Let Things Slide”) and debased (“I Trained Her To Love Me”).  No matter the mood, every song featured Nick’s trademark couplets, improbable and impossible rhymes that no one else would dare write, or even think about.  There was the occasional unexpected cover (Cliff Richards’ “Travelin’ Light”, Elvis Costello’s “Alison”); but the song that brought the house down mid-set was “Dollar Short Of Happy” a new song co-written with Ry Cooder that’s on Nick’s upcoming holiday album Quality Street.  Riotously hysterical.  You will want to own this holiday album, especially if you hate holiday albums.

            When he started strumming the chords to “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding” I looked at my co-pilot and said “Oh shit, I’m gonna cry.”  Nick sang the song slowly and quietly like a prayer, the polar opposite of Elvis Costello’s raucous version, and, yup, I sat there and cried like a baby.  And I wasn’t alone.



At 4:34 AM, Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

I HATE when I think something happened a couple years ago and it was actually a half decade!


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