Review: Nick Lowe, Edinburgh Queen’s Hall

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IF YOU’RE needing to brush up on Nick Lowe’s career since his late-Seventies/early-Eighties heyday, when, as both singer-songwriter and producer, he segued catalytically from pub rock to punk to new wave, you’re best avoiding his official website.

Lowe’s bio begins with: “Somewhere in London a musician carries the keys to the musical kingdom…” Execrable, and almost entirely unenlightening – referring to 2007’s At My Age as Lowe’s “new” album, and not at all to such signature classics as Cruel To Be Kind, I Knew the Bride When She Used To Rock’n’Roll and I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass.

But as this consummately polished set made clear, double-edged ambiguity of tone or sentiment equally remain Lowe’s signature stock-in-trade, from those aforementioned hits to more recent fare like Lately I’ve Let Things Slide, with its delicate balance of pathos and black humour, or I Trained Her To Love Me, with its woozily warped funk/blues groove and psycho-Lothario narrator.

In addition to his celebrated songcraft – which had drawn a near-sellout crowd of devotees – Lowe has clearly applied himself to the craft of singing over the years, to judge by his beautifully measured and nuanced delivery, snugly suited to the later material’s commingled Americana and Fifties/Sixties pop flavours, whose arrangements were lent a burnished vintage sheen by his classily seasoned four-piece band.

Rating: ****