Live upstairs at 'The Varsity' in Wolverhampton, U.K.
This band has but one goal: to achieve an unsettling calm through off-kilter melodies, enchanting vocal
harmonies, minimalist percussion, and tense acoustics. This is Low. Far sparer than anything you're likely
to hear under the guise of "alternative music," Low explore the evocative ambience of negative space
where each new sound reminds you of the silence it replaces. Guitarist and lead singer Alan Sparhawk
gently coaxes minor key melodies from his telecaster, before an ambiguous chord is finally strummed and
hung out to dry, reverberating in the acoustic vacuum until it fades out. Sparhawk posseses a beautiful,
fragile yet emotionally powerful voice which alone is amazing, but when comforted by Zak Sally's quaking
bass and intertwined with the backing harmonies of percussionist Mimi Parker is messianic. New single
and Peel favourite "Dinosaur Act" is enchanting, I glance to my left and adams apples everywhere rise and
sink as the audience gulp for breath. Sparhawk cries out with deep conviction rarely seen in this age of
musical self-reflection. When the shimmering guitar notes of 'Violence' are heard and he sings "I lent you
my favourite dictionary/it came back with ripped-out pages" it comes off as one of the most poignant and
saddest things you've ever heard. As Low depart on another understated, melancholy melody, (no
extravagant guitar tantrums required!) condensation drips from the roof and I begin to feel claustrophobic,
consumed by the need to feel the fresh breeze. As I bow down to the exit sign and cut through the brawling
boozy mob who elected to stay downstairs, Robbie and Kylie blast from the speakers, polluting the
atmosphere. You poor, poor fools I think to myself. Iíve just experienced pure beauty. I walk home
contemplating the paradox that the only real low I felt watching them was when they stop playing,
withdrawing the crowd from their enchanting spell and leaving us to make our way back into the real
world, which sadly for most of us is a lot less exciting.
Written By: Steven H.