For a man happily married with a young child, witty English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe delivers a persuasive line in hurt, heartache, loneliness and sometimes a touch of score-settling spite.
The affable Lowe with his longtime road band understandably favoured his latest album The Old Magic (jokingly anticipating an "oh no" factor from an audience wanting the old songs) but he dropped in familiar songs reworked, among them his onetime pop hit Cruel to be Kind, Gene McDaniel's early 60s Tower of Strength (its theme a counterpoint to his own willfully misogynistic I Trained Her to Love Me), a gorgeously worldweary What's So Funny'Bout Peace Love and Understanding and I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll.
In the latter - as on the reconfigured older songs Heart and Raging Eyes - you could hear the influence of Buddy Holly, but throughout Lowe's music was a winning hybrid of country, soul, rockabilly/rock'n'roll and classic balladry delivered unadorned - no lighting display or theatrics, just a man and his fine music - which threw the spotlight on his deftly crafted lyrics.
Songs like the man-alone narratives of I Read a Lot and House for Sale (with the twist, "I'm leaving like I just got out of jail"), Has She Got Friend? and the quasi-autobiographical tale of an embittered performer in What Lack of Love Has Done threw attention on their engrossing, often heart-stopping or wry-smile, lyrical details.
Bookending the show were solo spots, his insightful Stoplight Roses and a slow and deep treatment of Elvis Costello's Alison.
And between times, to a mature and appreciative audience seated on the most uncomfortable chairs since schoolroom days, 63-year old Lowe and his tasteful band delivered 90 minutes of the "quality entertainment" he'd jokingly promised.
Timeless music too, we might add.
What: Nick Lowe
Where: Powerstation, Auckland
When: Saturday, March 31