Live Review: nick lowe geraint watkins sydney opera house

3 April 2012 | 7:34 am | Adam Brunes

Those of you that got in early on the night would have been forgiven for thinking you had just stumbled into an RSL meat raffle, as Geraint Watkins, who also plays keys in the main act's band, took to the stage. He knocked out a number of good and bad piano numbers, which included a reinterpretation of the Chuck Berry hit, Johnny B Goode.

While Nick Lowe himself, who is comparatively less well known compared with many of the people he has collaborated with (the names Elvis Costello, Ry Cooder and Johnny Cash are just a few), he still has a distinct-sounding voice and after more than a million years performing in and out of the spotlight, he looked as fresh as ever with his thick black-rimmed glasses and the healthiest head of hair – albeit much whiter than it was a couple of decades ago.

Between songs the audience were treated to his light-hearted sense of humour and his wry recounting of events from the '70s, such his first meeting with long-time drumming companion Bobby Irwin, who it is alleged used to sell stuff for 'twelve dollars an ounce!' if the urban retelling is true. Lowe also warned the audience that a number of new tracks from last year's The Old Magic would be getting a run, however he would still perform some well-known numbers too. True to his word, Cruel To Be Kind, I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock'n'Roll) and (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding all got a run and received the most audience response, but it was the stripped-back versions of Heart and Lately I've Let Things Slide that demonstrated how good a word- and songsmith he is.

While the target market was clearly the 40-plus age demographic, there were a few younger people in the audience. One actually fell asleep toward the end of the performance, yet managed somehow to continue clapping at the conclusion of every song, showing that Lowe and band were so powerful they managed also to reach people's subconscious and trigger an involuntary reaction. It may be said that based on this performance itself, Lowe would find it difficult to translate to younger audiences, but his songs of love and loss have the classic appeal so few artists possess.

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