NICK Lowe has a common sense take on how to deliver quality control at this self-styled Quality Rock’n’roll Revue show – keep it snappy. If you don’t like one song, another will be along in approximately two-and-a-half minutes.
Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock’n’Roll Revue, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****
Naturally, an audience of Lowe acolytes wouldn’t struggle to find something to love in this affectionate leafing through his sterling back pages, especially with his promise of “at least two smash hit songs”. But just to be sure, Lowe has hired a new backing band – crack commando Nashville surf rock outfit Los Straitjackets, purveyors of twang for some 30 years, who habitually take to the stage shrouded in Mexican wrestling masks.
This mysterious quartet are the men to bring Lowe’s catholic catalogue to life, deftly handling his diverse predilection for power pop, new wave, pub rock, country and old time balladry as well as their twangtastic 2018 collaboration Tokyo Bay– it’s all quality rock’n’roll at the end of the day, whether the mellifluous melody of his debut solo single, So It Goes, still fresh and free at 43 years young, or the luscious slow swing of You Inspire Me, now garnished with lashings of tremolo.
Lowe took a mid-set breather, leaving Los Straitjackets to deliver a no-nonsense instrumental set, including a surfing take on maritime classic My Heart Will Go On with some stratospheric vocalisation from drummer Gringo Starr.
An instrumental snippet of I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, one of said smash hits, was the cue for Lowe to return for further rock’n’roll hi-jinks such as the affectionate pastiche Half A Boy and Half A Man and the blatantly Chuck Berry-inspired Dave Edmunds hit I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock’n’roll) – both a reminder, if any were needed by this crowd of connoisseurs, that the roots of punk and new wave lay squarely in the primitive sonic simplicity of the 1950s.
In the punk pantheon, Lowe was more lover than fighter and, for all his pithy pop songs and rough-and-ready recording reputation as Basher, there was an unhurried elegance to much of the set, exemplified by the freewheeling melody of Cruel To Be Kind (smash hit number two) and a melancholic rendition of (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace Love and Understanding, a timeless tune which never loses its pop potency, nor its empathetic relevance.