Nick Lowe (solo acoustic)
Northshore Performing Arts Center
October 9, 2007
What's Shaking On The Hill
Long Limbed Girl
I Let Things Slide
Has She Got A Friend?
All Men Are Liars
Train Her To Love Me
Cruel To Be Kind
Heart (Who Can I Believe?)
That's The Kind Of Man I've Become
Hope For Us All
Rome Wasn't Built In A Day
Shelly My Love
I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock & Roll
What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding
In The Heart Of The City
The Beast In Me
Seven Nights To Rock
** w/Bill Kirchen (electric guitar) & Austin DeLone (Electric Piano)
This was one of those good news, bad news nights, except the bad news wasn't really that bad and the good news was off the hook.
I hadn't bothered to check any websites for info on this tour, so I was lacking a little bit of info going in. I'd read about the show in an ad in our local free rag "The Stranger". It had just said that Nick Lowe was performing, so I was expecting to see him playing electric bass with his full touring band. That proved woefully wrong.
The Northshore PAC is a new concert venue for the Seattle area, so besides seeing "The Basher", I was curious to check out the new performance space. Roger McGuinn is playing there on January 27th, a couple of days before my b-day, and I wanted to see if it was a worthy venue for celebratory activities. It's a brand new facility on the grounds of Bothell High School, and just finding it was a stroke of good fortune. Bothell is on the North shore of Lake Washington, only about 12 miles from my shop, but if Mapquest didn't exist, I'd probably still be poking around trying to find the place.
Anyhow, I rolled into the parking lot, entered a smallish lobby and went up to the ticket window. I heard music playing inside and asked the ladies at the window how long Nick had been on for. They said, "oh, he's not on yet, there is an opening act, some guy named Bill Kirchen." Holy Shit, Kirchen! Back in my early '90s years in D.C. I was a Kirchen devotee, spending many a memorable Tuesday night at the Sunset Bar & Grill in Annandale watching the ex-Commander Cody legend shred with Too Much Fun. The Will Call ladies said they had some prime unclaimed seats, but that I'd have to wait to the set break to get seated. That was all good, but I asked if it would be possible to sneak in for the end of Kirchen's set. "Of course," one of the ushers said and she led me in and let me have her seat in the wings. I'd never seen Kirchen play without a bassist and drummer before, so this was pretty interesting. Austin DeLone was accompanying Bill on electric piano, and Bill was playing his trusty old Strat through a little-bitty vintage amp. They were romping through "All Tore Up" when I was getting seated, and then Bill told a funny little story about seeing Bob Dylan at Newport in '64 and then going back to see him go electric in '65 and being "ruined for life," before going into a stellar, set-closing version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'". So the bad news was that I'd missed most of Bill's set. I had no idea he was even going to be there, though, so even just seeing a little Bill was just added frosting on the beater.
The usherette pointed out where my seat was (2nd row, dead center in the mezzanine in this approximately 1000 seat theater) and then I told her I'd get seated in a minute but I wanted to step outside for a smoke. She reminded me I was on a high school campus, so that might be an iffy proposal. I noted her caution and stepped into the lobby, where I spotted Bill Kirchen standing by the merch table signing CD's and greeting fans. I plopped down $40 (!) for copies of Bill's latest, "Hammer Of The Honky Tonk Gods" and Nick's 2001 gem "The Convincer" and got in line to say hi to Bill. I told him of the times I used to see him at the Sunset and he said "Are you the Grillbilly who emailed me that he'd see me here?" I told him no, that I'd been pleasantly suprised to see him on the bill, and then talked about some mutual friends and reminded him of the time he'd introduced us to his mom at a show at Whitey's in Arlington, to which he replied, "Man, that must have been a loooong time ago." Yup. Others were waiting to meet Bill, so he asked for my name, and signed my copy of his CD "To David, Peace, Bill Kirchen". Priceless.
I stepped outside and noticed some of the other adults lighting up, so I figured it was cool. I kept thinking a vice principal was going to bust us and send us to detention.
Back inside, I nestled into my seat just as the lights came down and Nick Lowe came out. He picked up his acoustic six string guitar and launched right into a generous and excellently played set. Nick is the picture of sartorial flair these days, black slacks, tucked in white dress shirt and pointy-toed dress shoes. The acoustics are great in this room, and Nick seemed to notice. He's a stickler for being in tune ("I tune because I care"), which he took a few seconds to do before "What's Shaking On The Hill". He's an excellent raconteur as well. He gushed about how it was nice to play such a well-appointed place after playing a bevy of "decommisioned porno theaters", and made everyone laugh by saying that while the acoustics in the porn palaces were curiously good, the back stage conditions were uniformly "squalid" and you had to be careful not to sit down anywhere. He also told a great story about going down to drink and fish with his buddies at his seaside house in Cornwall, England, which on one hung-over, "soulful state" drive home led him to write the song about the oddly named British village Indian Queens.
The audience responded heartily to all of the old hits, "Cruel To Be Kind," "Without Love," "I Knew The Bride" and "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding" all bringing rapturous applause. I really wish I'd had a stealth taping set-up, because the sound in the room and the performance on stage were off the charts. The show was over about tenish, and I was knocked out to see that Nick had given us 22 songs in quick order. It's a shame most of you will not get to see this show. The North American tour ends tonight in Vancouver, B.C., so unless you're reading this in those parts, you'll miss out. I'm stoked that we've got a nice new venue for shows here. It's more of a sedate older, family-oriented set-up, not the type of place to get your Wook on and burn fatties, although you can always sneak out into the parking lot and relive your high school delinquent days. Good stuff!
I love Nick Lowe. That Dig My Mood CD is always nearby. And DieselBilly Kirchen is one of the Telecaster gods for sure. It's a shame Nick doesn't tour with his british band over here those guys are so good.