As four guitar wielding masked gentlemen take to the stage, the audience at the Sage Gateshead may have paused for a moment to wonder if they had wandered into the wrong hall for this evening’s Nick Lowe concert.
However, these are no ordinary luchadores, although what followed may well come under the category of a musical royal rumble. The musicians in question, are in fact Los Straitjackets – a world-famous US-based instrumental rock ensemble who have been backing legendary British singer/songwriter and producer Nick Lowe on this current tour.
These two musical forces combined initially on the 2018 Tokyo Bay EP, and it seems that their collective creative juices are still flowing with further new material in the pipeline.
And whilst this week’s biblical weather may well have been an obstacle for touring musicians, and the general public alike, the now five-piece outfit arrived safe and sound on Tyneside for tonight’s eagerly anticipated show at Sage Gateshead.
This evening’s show is split evenly into three parts during a concert that represents the very best of both worlds. At the top of the show, Lowe takes the audience back to the start of his career with set opener and 1976 debut single “So It Goes” along with “Ragin’ Eyes”. Immediately from the off both the musical and stage chemistry between Lowe and his masked counterparts is a joy to behold, it feels as if they have been playing together all their lives.
With a lot of ground to cover, Lowe largely intends to let the music do the talking, but his witty and somewhat charming stage banter early on certainly wins over the Gateshead crowd.
Guitarist Eddie Angel takes the spotlight during the wonderful ballad “You Inspire Me” before they collectively up the pace with a rock and roll fuelled airing of “Shting Shtang”.
As well as the old, there is plenty of room for the new including their recent collaboration on a cover of Sammy Turner’s 60’s single “Raincoat in the River” and the bass-heavy title track of their recent EP “Tokyo Bay”.
Mid-set Lowe leaves the stage to allow Los Straitjackets to showcase their incredible talents. The quartet’s thoroughly entertaining brand of surf rock and guitar trickery has the Gateshead audience enthralled from the off. One of the many highlights of the show being their rather unique take on Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic movie and their theatrical rendition of “Space Mosquito”.
Following their approximately six-song set, Los Straitjackets play Lowe back onto the stage to “I Love The Sounds of Breaking Glass” before they collectively race towards the finish line.
Classics such as “Cruel To Be Kind” sit perfectly side by side to newer cuts such as “Love Starvation” and the beautiful “Blue On Blue” before the main set is brought to a close with the Dave Edmund’s/Nick Lowe collaboration “I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock ‘n’ Roll)”.
With time now up against them and an impending curfew, the evening is brought to a fitting conclusion with the timeless classic “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding”.
Tonight despite their macho appearance and guitar fuelled bravado, there may not have been a lot of wrestling taking place but it’s fair to say that the musical Battle Royale that was bestowed upon us by Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets certainly packed a punch of heavyweight proportions.
Event Date: 13-June-2019