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Lowe stands the test of time

Wilbur Theatre, Boston, April 11, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The enduringly cool and dapper Nick Lowe spelled it out for the fans three songs in. One of music's finest popsters (among a number of other more roots-oriented other genres), Lowe said he and his backing band, Los Straitjackets, would dish out "golden oldies you might want to hear, some deep cut grooves, some covers and a few new ones."

Lowe indicated the fans should not worry about whether something was old or new. With a sense of humor ever present, Lowe claimed, "All our songs are 2 minutes long...and the new songs are exactly like the old ones."

Lowe was on target with not only his comments, but his music. Starting with "So It Goes" and closing solo acoustic with an encore of "Alison," Lowe's luster remains fully intact.

Perhaps thought more of as a pop tunesmith, Lowe was much more than that delving into rockabilly sounds, even roots and pub rock a lot of the time. The new songs did stand up quite well to the older material. Lowe was right. There was no need to advertise them as new songs.

The older songs stood the test of time as well, including such chestnuts as "Without Love," "Half a Boy" and the closing song of the regular set "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll."

Lowe was more than capably back by Los Straitjackets, a perfect musical accompaniment. The two released an EP together, "Tokyo Bay," in 2018. The quartet often had a twangy sound with the drummer, aka Gringo Starr, setting the beat.

Los Straitjackets enjoyed a five-song stint without Lowe, starting with "Batman" (still very cool sounding four decades later) and a few of their surf rock/rockabilly songs.

The group also has quite the shtick with each decked out in a Mexican wrestling mask and suit. One of the guitarists spoke in faux Spanish. There was no need for that, although that is obviously part and parcel of they are, because their musicianship certainly stood on its own.

Then it was Lowe returning to the stage. After a welcome reading of his late '70s band, Rockpile's "When I Write the Book," Lowe closed his regular set with the ever timeless "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? The still resonates quite loudly - maybe more than ever - in these trying times, 45 years after the song was penned by Lowe. His current take on the song was in sharp contrast to the traditionally angry take by Elvis Costello. Lowe was spare and slow as if to emphasize the message of the song.

Like his songs, Lowe remains a timeless musician as worthy in his "Jesus of Cool days as he is today.

Dawn Landes, now based in Nashville, opened with a low-key, but enjoyable set that was in the country realm. Good thing because she dressed in a red cowgirl outfit.

Landes was a warm, easy-going performer. Highlights included a very spare, but very satisfying cover of "Moon River" as the closing song and an ode to her now two-year-old daughter, "I'm Your Mama."