Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Jesus Of Cool
Nick Lowe at The Phoenix in Toronto
Frank YangMaybe listening to Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust weren’t the best warm-ups for Nick Lowe’s show at The Phoenix on Monday night. After all, he was many many years removed from being the young pub-rock firebrand who recorded those first two records, having settled comfortably into the role of professorial pop singer-songwriter – a guise that’s suited his still-potent pen quite nicely, as last year’s The Old Magic proved. But if you assumed this meant that his shows would be sedate, sit-down affairs, then you were mistaken. Somewhat.
Though the show was billed as Lowe with band, the man took the stage solo to open things up with something old and something new – “Stoplight Roses” from Magic and “Heart” from 1982’s Nick The Knife – before he took some time to chat up the crowd. He apologized if anyone was confused about the venue, since his recent shows had typically been at The Mod Club but with the positive reception that Magic has gotten and the increase in profile he got opening up for Wilco back in September, an upgrade in venue was not overreaching although what with the Phoenix floor being set up with chairs, the increase in capacity was probably only a couple hundred more at best.
Also in his opening monologue, Lowe mentioned that despite the new record being received quite favourably, it wouldn’t be one of “those” shows and that the set list had been optimized for “quality entertainment,” and the man wasn’t lying. After bringing his band out, he led them through a set that went from jazzy on the slower end of things to rollicking rockabilly at the other and both established the strength of his career’s body of work and affirmed that his recent records were as good as his old ones, in their way. After all, Lowe’s talents have always been his way with words and melodies, not in the fashions they were dressed in. I was a bit surprised how that Jesus Of Cool and Labour Of Lust didn’t get a bit more attention – besides being arguably his most famous records, they were also the ones recently reissued – but Lust was only represented by “Without Love” and “Cruel To Be Kind” and Jesus ignored completely.
No one was complaining, though. The audience was dead silent when they needed to be and whooped it up when appropriate, to say nothing of the sounds of female swooning that periodically punctuated the show; indeed, Lowe was a study in songwriting, charm and aging well. It wasn’t until the finale of the main set – “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – that they finally got up out of their seats – well, five of them at least – to turn the space at the front of the stage into a dance floor. They were joined by many more for the encores, the first of which was highlighted by a hymnal version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and the second which found Lowe, again alone onstage, performing a song by the other iconic British artist to whom he’ll be forever tied – Elvis Costello and “Alison”, and that he missed a chord change while singing “My aim is true” only made the whole thing that much more perfect.
Photos: Nick Lowe @ The Phoenix – April 23, 2012
Video: Nick Lowe – “Sensitive Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “All Men Are Liars”
Video: Nick Lowe – “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll)”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Half A Boy And Half A Man”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Cruel To Be Kind”
Video: Nick Lowe – “Crackin’ Up”
The Line Of Best Fit revisits Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie-saluting Mermaid Avenue releases; Mermaid Avenue: Volume III would appear to only be available in physical form in the Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Alas. Maybe take it up with Billy when his North American tour brings him through the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia on July 8? It looks like that’s as close as he’s getting to Hogtown this time out.
The AV Club has got a stream of Fear Fun – the debut album from Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman ex of Fleet Foxes – ahead of its May 1 release date as well as an interview with the man. He plays The Horseshoe on May 14.
Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips talks to Forbes about why the band has been so dedicated to making weird records/releases over the last couple of years; basically, just to see if they could. Another of the tracks from their Record Store Day Heady Fwends has just been made into a video. The Flaming Lips play a free show for NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 16.
And going on before the Lips and doubling the insane live show quotient will be Of Montreal. They’ve just released a new video from this year’s Paralytic Stalks and NPR is streaming last night’s show in Washington DC. And if you’re curious about some of the other NXNE scheduling that I’ve sussed out, last week’s post is in a constant state of update.
These United States – whose last attempted visit was derailed, I believe, by something we Torontonians like to call the G20 riots, will give it another go with a show at The Horseshoe on June 22. Update: okay, so they were actually here just a couple weeks ago opening for Trampled By Turtles. Fine.
Their fourth album Magic Hour due out on May 28, New York’s Scissor Sisters have set a date at the Sound Academy for June 28 – tickets are $32.50 for general admission and $42.50 for VIP.
To everyone reporting that Cat Power had named her new record, Sun – it’s not really news. She named announced it as the name of her next studio album following The Greatest as early as 2007, reported that the album was done in 2008 and then said that she’d shelved it in 2009. The more pertinent question is did she change her mind about those sessions and is releasing five-year old recordings or was she so attached to the album title that she’s using it for a whole new set of songs. In any case, it is news – assuming it’s true – that the record will be out on September 11. I’ll wait for Matador to chime in.
Proxart talks to Anna-Lynne Williams of Trespassers William; on Facebook this week, she reported that the final Trespassers release – a double-disc cupboard clearing compilation – had gone off for mastering. Details on that release soon, one hopes.
Tags: Andrew Bird, Beach House, Billy Bragg, Bowerbirds, Cat Power, Father John Misty, Flaming Lips, J Mascis, La Sera, Lambchop, Lower Dens, Magnetic Fields, Mountain Goats, Nada Surf, Nick Lowe, of montreal, R.E.M., Scissor Sisters, Sleigh Bells, These United States, Trespassers William, tUnE-yArDs, Wilco