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Concert Reviews:
Nick Lowe, Los Straitjackets are kind, not cruel at Saint Andrews Hall

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2018

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DETROIT -- The union of Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets seemed like a gimmick when the two acts first started performing a holiday show together back in late 2014.

Now it's a dependable music highlight for both -- and, most importantly, for their fans.

The pair's first non-holiday tour stopped Friday night, June 29, at Saint Andrews Hall and was every bit, and possibly more, pleasing than the Quality Holiday Revue Lowe and Los Straitjackets have done for the past few years. The sheer sight of the white-haired Lowe surrounded by guys in matching suits and Lucha libre wresting masks was still worth the price of admission alone; When the troupe cranked into the music, however, it was nothing less than transcendent for the Saint Andrews crowd, which included Detroit guitar legend Jim McCarty and Detroit Tigers alumnus and commentator Kirk Gibson.

Make no mistake that the 25-song, 90-minute concert is a Lowe show, filled with favorites from throughout his career and nods to his other collaborations. But Lowe, who brandished an acoustic guitar throughout the night, was generous in both his praise of and spotlight for his tour mates. He let the audience have a six-song taste of Los Straitjackets mid-show, as he left to change shirts (from white to gray), and the quartet scored a take-down with a truncated display of its surf-styled instrumental rock and gleefully cheeseball "choreography," highlighting guitarist Eddie Angel and playing versions of a couple of Lowe tunes -- "Lately I've Let Things Slide" and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" -- from its "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Los Straitjackets" tribute album.

Lowe, meanwhile, clearly relished his surroundings, looking relaxed and smiling throughout a show that featured the two acts' new single, "Tokyo Bay," and still-potent yesteryear pleasers such as "So It Goes," "Ragin' Eyes," "Half a Boy and Half a Man" and, of course, "Cruel To Be Kind." Lowe and company took a slow roll through "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock 'n' Roll)" and "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," and after Los Straitjackets' cheeky romp through the "Batman" theme Lowe offered up "When I Write the Book" from his onetime all-star group Rockpile.

Lowe finished the night alone with a hushed rendition of Elvis Costello's "Alison," which Lowe produced more than four decades ago. It was a gentle reminder that he's always played nice with others -- but maybe never better than he does with Los Straitjackets.

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