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Nick Lowe: Man Half Defeats Boy

Nick Lowe: Man Half Defeats Boy

At the Belcourt Tuesday, Nick Lowe showed off the natural benefits of years of his very British acceptance of rock singer-songwriter pop as an unexceptional part of show business: seasoned pacing, a knowing mix of numbers famous and less so, banter that actually was amusing, and the refreshing possibilities that come with the willingness to explore areas beyond the earnest and personal. During a "good for Nashville" story song that goes, "I worked the rigs in Galveston," Lowe tossed in the aside "Yeah, sure!" His songs are openly constructs.

The "abominable showman" even brought dramatic structure to the show—a tug of war between the stinging, "barely human" Lowe Without Love and the altogether sweeter Man Who's Found Some. Most of the cheers and hoots were for the pointed lines in his edgier material; many of those on hand, hardcore fans not put off by the absence of an electric band, were undoubtedly looking for the Nick Lowe who commemorated the silent movie star "winner, who became a doggy's dinner," and rhymed "Rick Astley" with "ghastly." In "The Man I've Become," the desperate, love-deprived Lowe was now depicted, inevitably, as a fist-shaking crank that chases kids off his lawn.

But the Man Who's Found Some ruled the night. From the contemplative opener about peace and the conference table, to the inevitable closer, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?," the no-joke Lowe was touching in his simplicity and directness. It's the side of him that loves the straightforwardness of American country music—and, as he pointed out, that loves to return to this city.

No one who heard the high point of the night, his naked cry, "Please, please, please don't go," in his "Lover Don't Go" (less self-protected even than James Brown's in the song it quotes), could even begin to suggest that the sincerity and good nature was part of an act.

—Barry Mazor

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