Review: Nick Lowe's Quality Rock & Roll Revue, Pocklington Arts Centre

WHAT'S so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding how a concert works best?

Nick Lowe, once of Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile, is an elder statesman of English rock, new wave and power pop at 70, deemed worthy of headlining of Glastonbury's Acoustic Stage at Worthy Farm, but delighting in a simultaneous tour of "village halls and scout huts".

"Who knows who will turn up. Maybe people think I'm dead!"he wondered ahead of his "first proper UK tour in 20 years". He had picked out-of-the-way joints, "just the kind of place where the music we do sounds fantastic".

By "we", Lowe is referring to his new compadres, Los Straitjackets, a Nashville four-piece with a predilection for wearing Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks, matching surf instrumentals to choreography that shadows The Shadows...and a latest album of Nick Lowe covers. Their humour finds them introducing their singing drummer as "Gringo Starr", and guitarist Eddie Angel's name could not be more rock'n'roll.

Lowe and Los Straitjackets sound fantastic on two retro EPs, last year's Tokyo Bay and this spring's Love Starvation, and they sounded even better in concert in Pock on June 25.

Lowe, unmasked, urbane, hair quiffed above glasses, could have picked up Buddy Holly's mantle, such is the quality of his two and a half-minute songs, from So It Goes to Blue On Blue. "If you don't like one, you don't have long to wait for the next one," he joked.

Los Straitjackets accompanied Lowe, diligently yet intuitively, then paraded their dazzling surf guitar dexterity and playfulness, before Lowe re-joined them to stroll further down pop's Quality street.



Charles Hutchinson