I went to see a concert of Low a couple of weeks ago. It took me a while to collect and load this stuff, so that’s why I’m posting this only now.
It wasn’t my first Low concert. Their concerts are always nothing more than amazing. Up until now they always delivered. I’ve never been disappointed. Which is hard to do in their case because one wrong note or bad voice affects the quality of the entire performance. If it doesn’t sound right you’ll hear it. It’s the nature of their music. What they do looks simple but it’s not. It’s a sparse and wide open sound with long and ever winding melodies and an occasional explosion of feedback. It reminds me of those Great Plains in the Midwest (they live in Minnesota which technically speaking is not a part of the Plains). These endless fields and prairies which are usually peaceful and tranquil but which are also the homeland of storms and tornados. The eruption of guitar noise and feedback amidst songs of angelic beauty resembles a prairie storm passing by. A great overwhelming experience which has more impact and effect in this receiving environment.
For me their music (apart from the lyrics) deals with the countryside and the forces of nature. So it’s not urban music. The lyrics about human nature ad extra layers. A man lost in space and time? An inner turmoil in resonance with that of nature?
This imagery always brings me, through wild associations, to the Wizard of Oz. That prairie twister which blows the house of Judy Garland all the way to Oz.
Anyway, back on track… it seems that they also have a special bond or a relation of some sort with this country and it’s audience. Maybe it’s because we’re one of the first foreign countries where they had fans and got to perform. I don’t know? Is it because we’re called the Lowlands? Too obvious.
This is my selection of song from the Albums I have. I think they played almost all of these songs apart from Dinosaur Act, Laser Beam and When I go Deaf but I'm not sure anymore.
(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace
Time Is The Diamond
When I Go Deaf
Like A Forest
Point Of Disgust
Low was the main act in a small series of concerts, kind of festival, of like minded music on the same night. There was an up comin’ Belgian band called Krakow which was a bit of a disappointment. I only knew one song of them from the radio which was a really nice blend of alt.country and close harmony but they didn’t get around doing much harmony. They sang separately but none of them had a voice that was distinctive enough to carry any of the slow moving song (to say it mildly). More teamwork next time.
Next on the bill was another American act that didn’t ring a bell. I had never heard of Death Vessel. On the basis of the name I was expecting a couple of headbangers that would emphasis on the hard-core side of slowcore - the label Low always gets identified with - but instead it was a very pleasant encounter with a singer-songwriter in the best folk and country tradition of The Anthology of American Folk Music.
Another great surprise and disbelief was my share when this tall guy with long black hair sang with a soaring, crystalline soprano. He sang in a high register with a clear tone that’s beautifully sustained. If you closed your eyes you could hear a wonderful female country singer.
Death Vessel played it pretty straight. Just a man with a odd but beautiful vulnerable voice and some acoustic picking and plucking at a safe but skilful pace. I hope that he doesn’t get boxed as some freak country act - come and see the cowboy who sings like a girly. It would be a damn shame.