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Lowe, Los Straitjackets stay on track

Paradise Rock Club, Boston, November 1, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Early on during the first show of his new tour, Nick Lowe told the sold-out crowd, "Tonight is the first show (of the tour)...Who knows what is going to happen? The wheels could come off."

Lowe, the veteran British singer of pop and Americana music, was his affable self, joking with the crowd. But if he wasn't, Lowe ought to stay in his lane and stop being a (false) prognosticator.

This was another top notch outing from Lowe, now 74, and always nattily dressed, of course, and his backing band Los Straitjackets with whom he has previously toured. In fact, Los Straitjackets did an instrumental Lowe tribute disc in 2017 and previously recorded and toured together.

Lowe traversed his career from the hits, starting off with "So It Goes" to "Cruel to Be Kind" to the joyful, simply fun "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll)."

His voice has weathered some, but he remains a capable singer ("Half a Boy and Half a Man" and "Trombone" in particular) making the songs sound current instead of in some cases decades old.

No song was as poignant as his take on "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"). With the world on fire in the Middle East, Ukraine, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, the 49-year-old song seemed the perfect sentiment in these troubled times.

And Lowe certainly did not mail this in or anything else during the 95-minute show. He slowed down "...Peace, Love and Understanding," putting the focus squarely on the words instead of the warped speed Elvis Costello take on it.

As for Los Straitjackets, they literally let their music do the talking. Except for drummer Chris Sprague and lead guitarist Eddie Angel aiding Lowe on backing vocals, they did not utter a word. Not even when Lowe left the stage after eight songs to give the quartet their own time on stage.

Los Straitjackets, who each perform with Mexican wrestling masks, are a superb band in their own rite playing surf rock/spaghetti Western-styled instrumentals with the lead-off "Kawanga" and their take on the "Return of the Magnificent Seven" theme song about the best of the bunch.

But there were no weak ones. Maybe the biggest compliment was that even though the songs felt like they could have vocals, the music was strong enough that it didn't need any.

In effect with Lowe and Los Straitjackets, you get two for the price of one.

Despite Lowe's warning that not all might not go quite according to plan, Lowe and Los Straitjackets chugged along from start to finish right on track.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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