You've Been Asleep for a Hundred Seconds

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Nick Lowe Uber Alles

I took a midweek mini-vacation to Portland with Headstart to see Nick Lowe at the Aladdin and it was excellent. Somewhat surprisingly after living in the Puget Sound area for 16 years I had never spent any significant time in Portland. And in my ignorance I even developed a bit of a distaste for the place. Maybe that stemmed from being a Sonics fan and thus hating the Blazers. A few brief stops in Portland on my road trip to the Bay Area last summer peaked my interest, as did the fact that the best new band of the last few years, the Decemberists, hails from Portland. Anyway Nick Lowe's first serious West coast tour in 20 years is what finally got me down to Portland and frankly I was impressed.

Portland is not Seattle. It has totally different vibe in fact it reminded me of Olympia, if Olympia was 5 times as big. The town town is cozy and seems very livable. After checking into the Hilton, (we got a super cheap PriceLine rate so Paris Hilton wont be buying anymore Ugg boots at our expense) we found our room to be a spacious corner room with a great view. Next we rested a bit (Headstart was still suffering from an awful cold) and then went to the Hawthorne district and found it very charming and reminiscent of the best neighborhoods in Seattle but with a more relaxed feel. Following dinner and nice crepe restaurant we headed off to the Aladdin.

The Aladdin to my surprise was not a club but was a small theater. Smaller than say the Neptune or the Egyptian movie theaters in Seattle. We came in toward the end of opening act Geraint Watkins set. We managed to score some seats in the front row off the the right next to a nice British guy named Kevin. The highlight of Geraint's set was a boogie woogie cover of the Beach Boys' "Heroes and Villains".

After the opening act we spotted Seattle pop rock stalwarts Scott McCaughey of the Minus 5 and R.E.M. and John Ramberg of the Model Rockets in the lobby. Their appearance was not surprising because they are both in the Nick Lowe cover band the Lowebeats, but it was still exciting that when we ran into Scott at the merch table he happily responded to Headstart's "Hi, Scott!" and really seemed to recognize us from countless Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellow's shows at the Crocodile. In addition to the momentary star-fucking I did manage to pick up Nick's new tour only live album Untouched Takeaway.

Nick's performance was stellar throughout. He started with "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until Got is Seated at the Conference Table)" While focusing on later material he played stuff from every era of his career from "Cruel to Be Kind" to "What's So Funny About Peace love and Understanding?" to "Soulful Wind". Initially he was just playing solo with acoustic guitar and his stage presence was very reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock minus the incessant blinking. Later Geraint Watkins joined him on the keyboards and they played some surprising tunes "Half a Boy and Half a Man" and "She Don't Love Nobody" from the Cowboy Outfit era. Nick encored with a superb combo of "Heart of the City" and "The Beast in Me".

Afterwards I reunited with Headstart, who due to her nasty cough had elected to watch from the side against the wall, and we waited in the theater to see if Nick would come out. In waiting we met several other nick fans most of who were very nice but one guy was really weird and kept talking about some K-Tel collection he used to have. Eventually Nick came out to the front and Headstart had her copy of the Labour of Lust LP autographed and Nick signed my CD booklets for Party of One and The Jesus of Cool as well as his new CD.

Today we took things easy and just swung by Powell's on our way out of town. Both Portland and Nick Lowe really impressed the hell out of me and I definitely want to see more of both. And I had an abosultely wonderful time with Headstart even though she felt awful the whole trip. As always she's the perfect traveling companion.


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