The Ardmore Music Hall is on a tear! Upcoming acts include Steve Earle, the Jayhawks, and Jimmie Vaughan. But last night, it was Nick Lowe's turn to grace the small stage in Ardmore. And can I tell you, it was one great show.
Nick Lowe is 70 years old. He has played with the Brinsley Schwarz band (Brinsley was later lead guitarist with The Rumour), Rockpile, and has had a lengthy solo career. Lowe and fellow Rockpile bandmate Dave Edmunds made a ton of great music together. His output is prodigious given the length of his career, but he's also had a huge impact on rock in general through his production activities with artists like the Damned, the Pretenders, John Hiatt, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Wreckless Eric, Johnny Cash (Lowe was married to Cash's daughter, Carlene Carter, for a while), and the Mavericks. He was one of the original artists on the famous Stiff Label, which featured one of the best taglines in the history of rock 'n' roll - google it.
I've seen Lowe a few times previously, including with Dave Edmunds. I saw him solo at the defunct Border's Books in Rosemont. I brought my son, who was probably about 10 at the time, and Lowe singled him out after the show and had a nice chat with him. I liked Nick before that, of course, but after that encounter, well, he will always be thought of fondly in my house [unlike former Celtics great, Bill Russell, who I met as a kid and who refused to give me an autograph even though he and I were the only ones around - jerk!].
I needed the outlet because work has been almost unbearable lately. It was good to get out of the house and do something that I love to do, and it helped. What really helped was the show itself. Wow!
Nick brought along Los Straitjackets as his backup band. If you've never seen LS, they are a surf-rock band who play in Mexican wrestling masks. Viva Los Straitjackets! Primarily playing instrumentals, they are fun to see live. Lowe came out and performed with LS, then took a breather while LS played about 4 songs by themselves, and then Nick came back and finished the show with them. Well, almost the rest of the show. Nick did perform one final acoustic encore song, Elvis Costello's Alison, which was beautiful and touching. A fantastic way to end the show.
When you've been around as long as Nick Lowe, you've written a lot of songs and you've got a lot to choose from come showtime. Nick came out and performed So It Goes and immediately got the crowd into it. Between songs, he said that they would be performing some old songs, some new ones (he cleverly said, yeah, he's been in an audience before and knows that nothing sucks the life out of a show more than the words "and now we'll play something from the new album," but he said that his new stuff pretty much sounded like his old music, and that made everyone laugh), and some deep cuts for those that were way into it. He did just that, and the new song that he played, Tokyo Bay, was a fantastic rockabilly number that was instantly likeable. The crowd loved it.
I need to tell you about this crowd. We got there about 7:45 for an 8 pm show. There was a forgettable singer-songwriter opening, so Nick wasn't going to come on stage until 8:45 to 9. But the place was already packed! I looked around and thought, hey, most of these people are about 10 years older than me. And that reminded me of something my brother told me years ago when he lived in Florida: you can't out-early the old. Proof positive at AMH this past week!
Back to the show. Lowe gave great renditions of Cruel to be Kind, I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll) - which is a huge favorite in my house - Half a Boy and Half a Man, and (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding. And Los Straitjackets did a fantastic instrumental version of I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, and Lowe came out at the end and dropped in the final lyrics. He even played some old Rockpile songs.
One of the great things about AMH is that it's about 10 minutes from my house. I got free parking, but it was a challenge because all of those geezers showed up after the early bird special dinner. I was home so quickly that it was almost hard to believe I had been out to a show - until the next morning, of course. It was a super satisfactory night during a super grind of a week, and it helped me to get through. Yup, I'm a big believer in the power of live music.
Next up, well, I think I've got something that will BLOW YOUR MIND. I'll find out tomorrow if I scored the tickets or not, but you'll be shocked! shocked! once I tell you who it is. For now, just think about what ridiculous show is coming to Philly and see if it ultimately matches up with reality. I'll be back soon and I hope you will be, too.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.