What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, Lowe and Sexsmith

Nick Lowe & Ron Sexsmith
The Great Indoors Tour
Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
June 10, 2024


Ron Sexsmith and Nick Lowe toured together in the mid 2000s all over America and then did some shows in the U.K. When Sexsmith saw Lowe last year in London (Nick also attending one of Ron’s shows), they thought it would be great to collaborate again.

And so for the first time in well over a decade songwriter/friends Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith hit the road together again for a five city Canadian tour with stops in Vancouver, Calgary, Sherwood Park, Winnipeg, and Ottawa. Each performed solo as well as together on a few songs. It was a memorable night of music at the Commodore Ballroom.

Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith - Vancouver, June 10, 2024
Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith – Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, June 10, 2024


Last February, Sexsmith, the three-time Juno winning, and internationally acclaimed songwriter returned to Toronto’s storied Massey Hall for a very special retrospective ‘Sexsmith At Sixty’ show in celebration of his celebration of his 60th birthday. Sexsmith hadn’t played Massey Hall in 10 years.

Sexsmith’s songs have been covered by Rod Stewart, Emmylou Harris, Nick Lowe and Leslie Feist, and he lists Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and Steve Earle among some of his biggest fans.

In typical Sexsmith fashion, there’s a timeless quality to his songs, a conversational type approach, that keep you coming back to them and seeing this great Canadian troubadour live.

Ron is happy. He left the bright lights of Toronto (Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood) and moved to Stratford in January 2017. ‘The Vivian Line, his 17th album was released in 2023. The title track is named after a rural rote near Ron’s house, and he views it as “representing a sort of portal between my old life in Toronto and my new life here”.

More than anyone else, Elvis Costello saved Ron Sexsmith’s career. At the age of 31, Sexsmith’s self-titled debut album was released in 1995 (North America only) and the label hated it. They were not promoting it. Sexsmith spent that whole year touring around opening for people, nobody really caring. His label were about to drop him when Elvis Costello held his album up on the cover of the January 1996 issue of MOJO magazine. Sexsmith had not even met him yet. It changed everything. That album made its way on so many year-end lists. It wasn’t until his fourth album before anyone in Canada paid any attention to him. Sexsmith has a cult following everywhere and can certainly fill a room.

The label wanted Sexsmith to scrap the whole album and redo it with Daniel Lanois producing.

Sexsmith’s sentimentality still runs deep, and the legion of long-standing fans were delighted with his music on this Monday night which was billed as An Evening with Nick Lowe & Ron Sexsmith.

Sexsmith took the stage first. The beautiful “Former Glory” opened his set with Ron singing “Your eyes are burning low as you look out on this morning. Your eyes will return to their former glory”. “Lebanon, Tennessee” followed. “You guys are great. Thank You. The last time I played here, I opened for BNL (Bare) and noboby listened” he joked.

“You know a friend of mine I was talking to, and I said I was opening for Nick Lowe and I’m not sure what I should play. And he said, well you know there may be some people in the audience who are familiar with his music but not with mine. So he said I should play my hits. So I said, I have hits” as he gestured with both arms in an open position as the audience laughed. “But actually this song got to No. 10 on the charts, so it was kind of a hit. And later on it was covered by Michael Bublé. That song is “Whatever It Takes” which followed. “What I Had In Mind” was the only song performed from ‘The Vivian Line’.

“In a Flash” is a song Sexsmith originally wrote when Jeff Buckley died and would later sing it for Elliott Smith when he passed away. Now, this song is played for Dallas Good of The Sadies who we lost a few years ago.

Ron Sexsmith is making a new record this fall in England and so a couple of brand new songs were played, “Cigarette & Cocktail” and “Whatever I Damn Well Please”.

I discovered Ron Sexsmith in 1997 when the album ‘Other Songs’ was released. Two of my favourite songs from that record are the two tracks that open the album, “Thinking Out Loud” and “Strawberry Blonde”. It wasn’t until the following year that I got to see him perform live for the first time at the Ottawa Tulip Festival.

For the first time in its history, the festival staged 11 consecutive days and nights of popular music ranging from folk to hard rock. The festival, running from Friday, May 8th until Monday, May 18th, sold more than 6,000 festival-long Tulipasses for 1998, three times the number sold in 1997, which provided a much more limited musical menu. Sexsmith scheduled performance was on Monday, May 18th from 1 pm to 2 pm. There weren’t too many in attendance that afternoon to witness “Thinking Out Loud” and “Strawberry Blonde”, let alone this promising composer.

Former Glory
Lebanon, Tennessee
Whatever it Takes
What I Had In Mind
In a Flash
Cigarette & Cocktail (new song)
Whatever I Damn Well Please (new song)
Secret Heart
Nothing Good
All in Good Time
Sneak Out the Back Door

Strawbery Blonde



To the delight of the audience, Nick Lowe’s early pub rock hits –including “Cruel To Be Kind”, originally written by Lowe and Ian Gomm while in Brinsley Schwarz, having been recorded as a demo during the band’s final years in the ’70s and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)”, a song first popularized by Dave Edmunds in 1977 were performed on this night.

At age 75, Nick Lowe’s old magic was on display the whole night song after song starting with the brilliant “Stoplight Roses”, a song inspired by flower merchants who sometimes approach your car at stoplights and shove a bunch of flowers towards you.

“12 Step Program (To Quit You Babe)” and “Long Limbed Girl” followed. “It’s wonderful to be back in Canada, yes, it’s wonderful to be back in the great city of Vancouver, to be working with my old friend Ron Sexsmith.” stated Lowe. The English singer-songwriter continued with “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide”, “I Live on a Battleship” and the exceptional “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” which would later be covered by Jonell Mosser in 2011 and JD McPherson in 2014.

Nick Lowe also covered the Bee Gees’ “Heartbreaker”, a song that started as a soundcheck tune before Lowe recorded it and released on the ‘Tokyo Bay/Crying Inside four song EP in 2018. “I’m going to do a cover song now, this is what I like to drag out for these sort of occasions. This song by the Bee Gees that I really like. I like to do a cover because it sort of demonstrates that you’re not obssessed by your own thing.” Nick said to an approving and laughing audience. “I’m not going to tell you what it is” he continued. “You’ll know what it is.” After the third verse, he asked “Do you know what it is yet?”

Nick Lowe continues to record some of the very best music of his career. With backing from the Los Straitjackets, ‘Indoor Safari‘, his first full-length album in eleven years will be released this coming September.

“I’m going to do a song now which I wrote for my former father-in-law, the great Johnny Cash. What surprises no one, how the heck did that happen? Happen it did. I miss him and June still very much. He had … I was going to say 100s of sons-in-law, he had five daughters, and most have been married several times, sometimes to each others’s ex-husbands as well. Once you had your feet under the table, you were always welcomed. And the minute you said you got divorced from one of their daughters, it was no problem at all. Frankly, some of my fellow sons-in-law, I would have sent dogs on them, but not Marty Stuart. Not Marty Stuart. He was one of the best. But anyway, this is all in good fun. It took me twelve years to write this song. It’s only about two minutes long.” continued Lowe. That song was “The Beast In Me”.

Ron Sexsmith was then brought out as the two performed “Where’s My Everything” and “Cruel to Be Kind” which were excellent. Sexsmith was brought out again to end Lowe’s set for “My Baby’s Gone”, a Louvin Brothers cover, and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” before returning again for the first encore song “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”.


Stoplight Roses
12 Step Program (To Quit You Babe)
Long Limbed Girl
Lately I’ve Let Things Slide
I Live on a Battlefield
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Lay It On Me Baby
Tokyo Bay
Heartbreaker (Bee Gees cover)
Somebody Cares For Me
Let’s Stay In and Make Love
Love Starvation
The Beast in Me
Where’s My Everything (with Ron Sexsmith)
Cruel to Be Kind (with Ron Sexsmith)
Indian Queens
Without Love
My Baby’s Gone (with Ron Sexsmith) (Louvin Brothers cover)
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (with Ron Sexsmith)

I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll) (with Ron Sexsmith)
Alison (Elvis Costello cover)



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