People (Don’t) Change: Nick Lowe at Wolf Trap

Nick Lowe

The great Nick Lowe was in reprise mode at the Barns of Wolf Trap last night. You can hear an NPR podcast of his September 2007 set at the Birchmere here, which is pretty much the same show he performed at the Barns, with the small exceptions I noted in my DCist review. Good show by a great songwriter, but I’d have preferred more variety, and more songs.

About that: Lowe spent way too much time apologizing, to my mind, for slipping one new song into his 20-tune, 70-minute set. One! He asked us if, when we hear a performer say he’d like to introduce some new material, “Does your heart sink? Because mine does.”

Really? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the dilemma of the artist with the large, beloved back catalog struggling to make his audience accept his new work. I always thought he (or she) might come to see all those old crowd-pleasing songs as a creative albatross, though he of course is grateful for the reissues and the royalties, and for the catalog’s enduring ability to sell tickets, especially if he’s a Nick Lowe type, taking three to six years to put out 40 minutes’ worth of new songs. Though Lowe, at 60, is in the same demographic as Sir Elton Joel and the many vocal defenders of their circa-2009 mediocrity, I’d never have guessed he shares their reluctance to engage with anything new.

By the way, that new song he played, “I Read a Lot,” was good! Even the title is funny.

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