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As his 2020 tour has been announced (see dates below), it’s time to check out the last time Nick Lowe was in this corner of the world – all laidback charm and easy pop excellence.

As Wind Back Wednesday can’t hide, it was a winning combination in 2012.



Sydney Opera House, March 29

Oh boy is Nick Lowe going to get a shock when the Cuban missile crisis hits. And what’s he going to make of Ipswich Town winning the English first division crown under that promising manager Alf Ramsey?

Step into the musical world of the snowy-haired gentleman from Walton-on-Thames and Brentford, Nicolas Drain Lowe, and it’s permanently only just turned 1962. Audiences are polite and artists more polite still: self-deprecating and charming and so easy of wit.

In a band where everyone plays so perfectly and without ego (and the keyboardist does a great New Orleans and Memphis inspired opening set), the bassplayer is good looking but never says a word while the drummer wears a suit but sings like a charmed bird.

And the singer carries an air of elegance about him: a delivery which has the ease of Nat King Cole and a voice that when it reaches into high tenor regularly hints at the Velvet Fog, even when the tempo (but not the temper - never the temper) rises.

It’s all done with a word that seems an insult in other places, class. Take his relatively recent I Read A Lot, a song which may well be the dictionary definition of wistful ballad. Quietly soulful and graceful, it is beautifully sad but treads so lightly that even the loneliest of men in the room would sigh rather than cry.

Or his considerably older Cruel To Be Kind, here presented as a country-flavoured number with mid-tempo swing that might have been shared as much with Ray Price as Buddy Holly.

"It's still a pretty good song," Lowe said with a grin as the applause for Cruel To Be Kind washed over him. Oh yes it is. But it's hardly on its own here. In a third - or is it fourth? – career, Lowe’s subtle songwriting plays to his strengths and to his long time loves with such winning effect.

It means alongside skiffle and Chuck Berry moments such as Without Love and I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll) you’ll also get the ever so pretty supper club glide of House For Sale and harmony pop in the style of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant with Raining Raining.

And always, always, something wistful, something elegant.

I think 1962 is already looking a very good year, don’t you?

Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock & Roll Revue, starring Los Straitjackets plays:

Enmore Theatre, Sydney, February 16

Forum Theatre, Melbourne, February 18

The Tivoli, Brisbane, February 19

Astor Theatre, Perth, February 21

The Gov, Adelaide, February 23

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