Concerts

Photos and a review of Lowest of the Low in Ottawa

[Photos and text by Ross MacDonald. – AC]

When is a punk band not a punk band?… when it IS a punk band. Since it released its first album in 1991, Toronto’s Lowest of the Low has been labeled as alt/indie rock. But if you listen to the band’s words, and deeds, they are all punk. 45 years ago The Clash proved that punk doesn’t have to be two chords and in your face; it can actually be quite melodic and catchy. What’s critical is the message.

On Saturday night Lowest of the Low paid a visit to eastern Ontario’s biggest little music venue, Neat Coffee Shop.

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The Lowest of the Low started off the evening with ‘Kinda the Lonely One’ from their first album. But they wound up playing music from throughout their 32 year career, including several songs off their upcoming album ‘Welcome to the Plunderdome’, which will be released this coming fall on 6 October. If they were testing the waters, it was a great success. ‘Last Last Lost Generation’, ‘Hey Kid (You Got Soul!)’, and ‘Landslide’ received a great reception from the sold-out crowd. ‘Landslide’ is nothing like that Stevie Nicks song, it is fast and furious, criticising the corporate elites, with a strong message of helping our fellow citizens going through mental health problems “When your life gets out of hand… I’ll dig you free with my two hands”.

Lowest of the Low  ottawa

The small venue gave both the band and the fans an opportunity to connect and interact that isn’t possible in an arena. All night singer Ron Hawkins was joking with several members of the audience. Ron introduced their 2019 single ‘Bottle Rockets’ as “kind of a story of Lowest of the Low, the highs and the lows playing the clubs in Toronto”.

Lowest of the Low  ottawa

Everyone in the band had a chance to shine, but one of the most memorable solos wasn’t guitar or drums, it was Lawrence Nichols’s harmonica solo on the outro to ‘Just About “The Only” Blues’.

Lowest of the Low  ottawa

Ron had everyone singing along, whether it was the beautiful harmonies from Lawrence, backed up by guitarist Michael McKenzie, or the singalongs to popular hits like ‘Bleed a Little While Tonight’ and ‘Salesmen, Cheats, and Liars’; which ended with some very hard hitting of the skins by David Alexander.

Lowest of the Low  ottawa

At the back of the hall a dozen fans were dancing, especially to ‘Eternal Fatalist’ and the closing song ‘Rosy and Grey’, which ended the night with a prolonged standing ovation.

Lowest of the Low  ottawa

Ron and the rest of the band performed exceptionally well and if this is any indication, their fall album release and tour will be a huge success. The fans at Neat are hoping that there will be a return by these punk rockers at that time.

Ron Hawkins – lead vocals, guitar
Lawrence Nichols – keyboards, guitar, harmonica, vocals
David Alexander – drums
Greg Smith – bass
Michael McKenzie – guitar, backing vocals

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37860 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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