It seems as though we are in a period of time where we read of a famous musician dying almost daily, this tour was supposed to have Ian McLagan in the opening slot but alas it wasn't to be with Ian passing on December 3rd. I was particularly pumped for the show, one for Mac being on the bill would somewhat achieve a milestone on my bucket list (i.e. see Small Faces/Faces keyboard player) and answer the question of how in the hell would Los Staitjackets sound playing Nick Lowe songs. Los Straitjackets have been around for twenty some odd years playing surf and rockabilly instrumentals with thirteen albums to their credit all performed while wearing Mexican wrestling masks (think Nacho Libre).
Due to the tragic death of Ian McLagan the show started with the openers the Cactus Blossoms, a duo from Northeast Minneapolis who had done a few dates with Nick earlier on the tour. They filled in quite nicely with each of their songs sounding as if the Everly Brothers were in the room, although the crowd of rowdy 40 to 60 year olds were there to see Nick.
Nick Lowe came on solo with his six string and performed a nice rendition of Rose Of England followed up quickly by a his ultra-poppy tune Heart, two of Nicks greatest songs. I was surprised by how many of his old hits he managed to squeeze in like Long Limbed Girl, Dollar Short and 7 Nights, all rocking solo with just the acoustic. Then it happened, as Nick was playing Only A Fool he was joined on stage by the full band and they effortlessly brought the show to another level, especially with the song Raging Eyes. Being the Christmas season and the show was a Christmas revue Nick and the boys did Xmas At The Airport from Nicks release last year along with Not Too Long Ago before Nick slipped off stage and we were delighted with the Christmas version of Los Straitjackets. They applied the signature LS sound to old favorites like Sleigh Ride, Marsh Mallow, Pacifica, the Linus & Lucy theme from Peanuts and then they tore into a rocking instrumental version of Nicks classic Breaking Glass, Nick showed back up on stage in time to hit the last refrain.
Covering his later years Nick played Sensitive Man, Somebody Cares, and North Pole Express before ripping into Half A Boy, this was followed up with Cruel To Be Kind, Rome, I Knew The Bride, and Christmas Every Day.
For an encore we were treated to two songs from Los Straitjackets, Sing Sing and the tribute to Mac, Itchycoo Park, yes the boys in Los Straitjackets tore up their instrumental version with the audience singing along "What did you do there?" "We Got High". Nick came back out and did Tokyo Bay, Born in Bethlehem, and Children Go Where solo to close out the show and when he said Happy Christmas to the crowd you almost felt like he was saying it to you directly, the guy just comes off as someone you would want to go have a beer with.
Italics - Los Straitjackets
Photos - Scott Wilkinson
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