Nick Lowe–Heart of the City (Live)

Surely it’s no surprise that an artist who cut his teeth in the Pub Rock movement would produce a superior version of their work in a live forum.  Such is the case with Nick Lowe’s Heart of the City.  It’s so much better that the live version appeared on debut solo album Jesus of Cool unaccompanied by the original single version (although it would later be replaced by the studio cut on the US release Pure Pop for Now People).  Somewhat surprisingly for a Nick Lowe tune, the live track is defined by its propulsive drumming, beginning with a rapid fire, proto-punk beat.  It’s a stark contrast to the amiable album version.  Throughout the song, the drums continue to set the tone, whether it be with clever breaks, primal thumping or machine gun spasms.  They lay the groundwork for a swaggering vocal performance and some blistering shredding.  It’s as high intensity as Nick Lowe would ever get.  By the end of the track, when every ounce of frenzied attitude has been wrung from the tune, it becomes clear why, as a jubilant but exhausted sounded Lowe shouts, “Thank you! Goodnight!”  It’s the type of leave-it-all-on-stage energy that only comes with the last song of the night.

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