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After that dreamy mood piece, it was time for an uptick and “Shting-Shtang” from “Party Of One” fit the bill admirably. The playful rhythm of that one was tailor made for giving Los Straitjackets plenty of room for give and take on their twin guitars. A cover of the chestnut “There’s A Ghost In My House” was a shocker… where did that come from? Even so, has here ever been a lame version of that song which I can’t even tell you who performed it first. [note: it looks like R. Dean Taylor – never heard of him] Then about seven or eight songs into the set, Nick left the stage for a middle set that was strictly Los Straitjackets; turning my opening act pre-concert scenario on its ear!
Los Straitjackets then had the stage to themselves for a five song mini-set of their patented surf-sonic attack. Eddie Angel was now free to speak en Español to the crowd as in accordance with several major international treaties. “Space Mosquito” was a new highlight with my wife especially noticing how stone-cold drummer Chris Sprague was all evening. She likes a good drummer; who is never flashy and doesn’t need to sweat it out onstage and Mr. Sprague was providing miles of swing in all of the right places. These guys set the ball rolling with their new album, “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, And Los Straitjackets?” their Nick Lowe cover album with none of the words and all of the melody, so they worked in a most welcome “[I Love The Sound Of] Breaking Glass” that had me singing along. Nick Lowe, too, as he sauntered onstage near the end and sang the last few lines as the Straitjackets middle portion of the set came to a close.
As Nick rejoined the set, we had plenty of Lowe classic both new and old given a new spin with this most capable band. Upbeat rockers like “Half A Boy And Half A Man” and “I Knew The Bride [When She Used To Rock + Roll]” were indisputably great, but so were newer, subtler songs like “Sensitive Man” and “Somebody Cares For Me.” “Bride” closed out the third leg of the evening, but not before they played “Heart Of The City” from “Jesus Of Cool.” I wondered what would await us on the encore.
What we got was Los Straitjackets bounding onstage in their dashing “Riddler” style jackets⇓ as they burst into a spirited “Batman” theme! Best of all, Greg Townson led the sold out audience in the distinctive chorus as we all got to vocalize the famous “Batman” vocalese horn riff. Then Mr. Lowe returned for a spirited “[What’s So Funny ‘Bout] Peace, Love, + Understanding.” This had been a super evening that cast the songs of Nick Lowe in a new and even more tuneful light. There was no way the packed house would let this one go as the hundred of feet stomping on the wooden floors of The Grey Eagle soon saw Nick Lowe return for a solo turn.
The crowd got a tender turn on Elvis Costello’s “Alison” and with that the night was over. As much as I love Nick Lowe however I can experience him, this had been a magical night. I am grateful that both Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets have had a fruitful alliance with Yep Roc Records, since it was five years ago at the Yep Roc 15 festival that the two artists met and discovered mutual admiration. They have played an occasional date together but this tour marked the first time that they crossed over multiple times on their respective tours, with Los Straitjackets playing with Lowe for about half of his current tour dates, which end tonight. They are playing at Lincoln Hall in Chicago tonight and you must go! It’s not called “Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock-N-Roll Revue” for nothing!
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⇓ – Which were themselves a very canny Nick Lowe, multi-leveled reference – see below! <insert stinger>