"Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read." - Frank Krappa

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Gig: Low @ Barbican 3/6/11

Yesterday I was a bit nervous about seeing Low: I wasn't a giant fan of the new album, I usually hate being seated at gigs (especially as my seat was right at the back) and, quite frankly, I was a bit worried about being bored.

Oupa (Daniel Blumberg of Yuck) was supporting, and I managed to catch the second half of his set. It's quite clear why he was chosen to support, obviously being influenced by the Slowcore genre Low originated in. His minimalistic keyboard/guitar + voice songs were very nice, and he played them well, but there was an element of self-indulgence in the length and repetition. While being pleasant, it didn't exactly ease my worries about Low's set.

My fears turned out to completely unfounded: last night was definitely one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sets I've ever seen. They opened with a moving rendition of 'Nothing But Heart', a song from their newest album C'mon. To be honest, that was among the songs I didn't like so much from the album but, when played live, the emotional sincerity, beautiful harmonies and awesome crescendo of sound blasted away any doubt in my mind about its brilliance.

From that point on they were on a roll that lasted the remainder of their near 2 hour set. Throughout it, they played lots from Drums and Guns, The Great Destroyer and also the entirety of C'mon. When playing songs that I didn't like so much on their albums, the performance stripped them of their slightly cheesy elements and replaced them with sublime brilliance, completely winning me over. They also did a good mix of long, short, quiet and louder songs that kept my rapt attention much better than a standard rock band ever could. Also, the addition of an extra member (a keyboard/vocalist) added a great element to the awe-inspiring sound.

Particular highlights for me were 'Silver Rider', 'Breaker' and '(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace'. While I would have preferred them to play more of their early material (especially debut I Could Live In Hope), they're probably really bored of it, and with 9 albums + loads more to their name I'm just glad I knew most of the songs played.

The gig was phenomenal, to the extent that I'm now unsure if I'm more excited to see Low or Jeff Mangum at ATP this December.

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