Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12.24.14 QUALITY STREET


Photo by Terri See

NICK LOWE AND LOS STRAITJACKETS
Swyer Theater, The Egg
December 19, 2014

This review originally appeared in the 12.24.14 issue of Metroland.

When this show was announced it took my breath away.  It looked so good on paper.  But that was nothing compared to how it played out on stage. Oh my god...

            Nick started alone, with his charming, erudite demeanor and his buttery voice gliding through gems like “Heart,” “Long-Limbed Girl,” and the indelible new Christmas tune “Dollar Short of Happy.” He gave a perfectly lovely eulogy for the late Ian McGlagan, who was supposed to have opened the show.  Then Los Straitjackets joined him for the last half of “Seven Nights To Rock” and the air in the room went from sweet to electric.  Maybe it was the Mexican wrestling masks, or the matching suits, or the matching crazy guitars, but the tension built and resolved and built and resolved like teenagers in heat in a sea of vibrato, reverb, and whammy bar goodness for the next hour and a half.  It was exhilarating, exhausting, and pretty much insane.

            And it hit me: Nick hasn’t had a band this dazzling since Rockpile.  Sure he’s had great players from Bill Kirchen to Paul Carrack to Ry Cooder, but a real band?  A band band?  Nope.  This was it.  And if there’s one band that simultaneously celebrates and subverts pop formula more than Nick Lowe does, it’s these guys...  Whoever’s responsible for this pairing deserves the Nobel friggin’ Peace Prize.

            It was a love-fest up there, with the band digging deeply into Lowe’s tunes, and Nick digging the hell out of being pushed like he hasn’t been pushed in decades.  While our pal and Rensselaer native Eddie Angel was soloing furiously during “I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll”, Nick kept yelling joyfully “Go Eddie! Go Eddie”, which just might be my favorite concert moment in years.

            Los Straitjackets took over for a bunch of songs mid-set, with a few of their own brilliant Christmas arrangements, including “Walk, Don’t Sleigh Ride” (my title for it), a torrid “Linus and Lucy,” and then “Outta Gear” featuring Eddie Angel running the table with his signature absurdist guitar moves.  Boinginging!!!  Then the Bo Diddley beated “(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass” with the former Jesus of Cool joining in for the very last line.  Damn.

            “Cruel To Be Kind” ear candy, three encores, a delicious instrumental “Itchykoo Park” ode to Ian McGlagan, and “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding.”  It was rapturous. Show of the year by a big-ass margin, bubba.


            I gotta little hunch we’ll be seeing these guys working together again.  Soon.

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