In 2011, singer-songwriter-hitmaker Nick Lowe told the New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten that waking up in a bad way in a bathroom caused him to clean up his act.
He said: “When I woke up in this bath, I had a terrible hangover. It was lunchtime, and I’d been up all night, carousing and talking bullocks(sic), and I looked at this bathroom covered in limescale, this rock star’s stupid bathroom, and I thought, This is a real metaphor for what has happened. I got out of the bath and caught sight of myself in the full-length mirror, and it was such a miserable sight, this unhappy cornered creature—it was like a thunderbolt: Right, today is the day everything changes. And it did.”
At the Komedia in Brighton on May Day, he regaled the audience with a anecdote about how a cover version of one of his songs by Diana Ross helped pay for a new bathroom. The same one in which he had his road-to-Damascus moment? Who knows?
Here is the review of the gig I wrote for The Argus newspaper (published May 6).
No waves rose in the 1970s that didn’t have Nick Lowe cheerfully surfing their crest. The veteran of pub, punk and power pop turned 65 in March, but when he sailed into the Komedia this bank holiday he politely declined the audience’s invitation to take a genteel cruise around familiar ground.
“This is a quality set, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Four hits and more glorious misses.”
Among the hits were “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock n Roll)”, “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” (which he wrote for Elvis Costello) and “Alison” (which Elvis Costello wrote and Lowe produced).
The highlights on the night included a mordant performance of “I Trained Her To Love Me”, a powerful rendition of “Ragin’ Eyes” and “I Live on a Battlefield”.
This last song, Lowe told the crowd, was covered by Diana Ross whose lacklustre performance nevertheless shifted enough units to buy him a new bathroom.
The tale sums up Lowe’s down-to-earth attitude to the surreal side of his career. His knack for sweet melodies and bitter lyrics has stood him in good stead and proved a crowd pleaser on this occasion, with the full house hollering for more.
And here he is in full-on rock star mode from 1978