Nick Lowe at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 9/26/12: Review and Setlist

From the early '90s obscurity "What's Shakin' on the Hill" to the late-period indulgence "Long Limbed Girl," to "Lately I've Let Things Slide," one of the best torch songs on 2001's "The Convincer," it became clear that all of these tunes -- strummed steadily but so lightly his thumb barely grazed the strings -- are country songs at their core, and never the country of cheap-shot stereotypes. Their form and function, their delicious regret and concise narration, their wordplay and emotional contours, inscribe them all in the great country songbook, right next to the collected works of Willie Nelson, Harlan Howard and Kris Kristofferson.

But the evening wasn't all torch and subliminal twang. The hilariously rakish "I Trained Her to Love Me" had a dead-on Elvis parody and "I Live on a Battlefield" was even more comic, if only for the story about Diana Ross' awkward cover of the song that bought the songwriter a new bathroom. "Cruel to Be Kind," even on just an acoustic guitar, swung and snapped, while "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" glided along, even without At My Age's studio-pro horns, strings, piano and organ. For one of pop and punk and rock's great producers it must feel a bit surreal to play these songs alone, given all the care he originally lavished upon them.

By the double encore's greatest hits - plus "Tokyo Bay," an original, as-yet-unreleased rockabilly tune - Lowe had fully argued a defense no one demanded. "When I Write the Book" and "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" -- the former with an unwelcome response vocal from an over-eager patron and the latter with a quite welcome long and loving delivery - set the scene for "Alison," a song written by an old friend, and a final reminder that the coolest cool can be heard in the wisest whisper.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: I'm a dues-paying, volunteer DJ at 88.1 KDHX, the station that presented this "Sheldon Session." More importantly, I'm a true believer in the Church of Our Lady of Acoustic Perfection. Nashville has the Ryman. St. Louis has the Sheldon. If you haven't been to this Grand Center institution, currently celebrating its 100th year, your ears haven't really lived.

Overheard: Nick Lowe on the late Andy Williams [Have those names ever appeared in the same sentence?]: "I didn't really know him, but we crossed paths a few times. I shouldn't go into details, but I saw enough to know he was extremely cool."

Opener: None, though rumor had it that Yep Roc label-mate Eleni Mandell would also be on the bill. She was in town, in fact, cutting an in-studio session for KDHX, but this night was all Nick.

Setlist:

Stoplight Roses
Heart
What's Shakin' on the Hill
Long Limbed Girl
Lately I've Let Things Slide
She's Got Soul
I Trained Her to Love Me
I Live on a Battlefield
I Read a Lot
Cruel to Be Kind
Raining Raining
Crying Inside
Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
Sensitive Man
Somebody Cares for Me
House for Sale
Without Love
I Knew the Bride (When She Use to Rock And Roll)

Encore: When I Write the Book
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding
Tokyo Bay

Encore 2:
Alison


Location Info

Map

The Sheldon

3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Category: General

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4 comments
undunone
undunone

Nick was just being his snarky self when he referred to Cincinnati as Snoozinati. I was at the Cincinnati show, and he referred to his previous venue, Louisville, as Snooziville, and that it had less jump than his left sock.

Fred
Fred

Stunning show.

The entire audience  was transfixed, as if Nick's voice and songs had us hypnotized.

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