Low at The Art School, 8/10/15

Low is a band that has been on my radar for 10 years now, but it has taken until now to have seen them live.

They have been attracting a lot of attention recently, due to a very productive couple of years with Mojo recently stating that, ‘after 21 years, it still feels like their best work is ahead of them’.

 

They have a huge back catalogue, as two decades of experimental Spartan sounds have rallied a mix of young and old to The Art School.

Many have been waiting a long time to see the band; one admirer revealed to me that he was doing over 80mph along the M8 just to catch the encore.

When they took to the stage the mood of the venue is considered and eager.

With no introduction they begin with their more serene, steady tracks.

It’s the unfilled, restrained melodies that they are known for, but they are soon followed by their tenser newer tracks, like ‘Gentle’.

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Their brooding, sulky synths are perfectly set off against Alan Sparhawk’s and Mimi Parker’s comforting, paternal/maternal vocals.

Low have always incorporated subtle servings of Americana, but it is a sound that has become ever more absent from their most recent album Ones and Sixes.

Occasionally, however, that past sound is revisited.

The lucid rumble of ‘Monkey’ signals a change of pace.

The Art School is the ideal acoustic match for this track – a full house to absorb the low frequency melodies.

The stand out track for me is ‘Plastic Cup’, from their 2013 album The Invisible Way, as they manage to deploy their newer synth based intonations for a truly poignant and unique version.

After a lengthy set and a sustained encore, we leave having but a glimpse of Low’s extensive musical estate.

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Words/Photos: Gordon Ballantyne

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