Friday, December 17, 2010

Low - The Christmas Tour, The Satellite - December 15, 2010

It's been a while since the last Low album and concert tour, so I was glad to have a ticket to this show. Though my enthusiasm level was fairly 'low', I figured this would be an unusual and unique opportunity to see them in as small a venue as The Satellite. But I seriously underestimated the power of Low and my own appreciation of them.

I spoke a brief 'hello' to Alan Sparhawk on my way in, as I got to interview him the last time The Retribution Gospel Choir were in town, he remembered me and shouted back a greeting. I noticed right away the show was sold out and went inside to meet some friends and try to find a space near the front.

Opener Charlie Parr was performing his set of amiable mid-western hippie folk music and he is clearly a good writer and solo performer as he seemed to have most of the attention of the audience. It only increased when Alan joined him onstage for his final song to offer some beautiful vocal harmonies, ending the set with a very positive feeling.

During the break I was surprised how easy it was to get up front and secure a great position a couple of feet from the stage. I'd never had the chance to see Low from such a close vantage point. Twenty-four hours later (with another concert in between) I'm still flying from this show. They are such amazing, consummate performers that even the set list was brilliantly conceived,

It was oddly, personally compelling that they began with "Monkey", since that was the first song I ever heard by them and it had made me an instant fan. Following that with "Silver Rider", also from The Great Destroyer CD, the audience was completely seduced and they were free to do whatever they wanted. "Silver Rider" was so perfectly performed it struck the audience silent and brought tears to my eyes. The uncanny vocal harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sound more powerful and sublime when heard live, and I was constantly amazed at what I was hearing.

With the audience seduced into submission, they were able to perform their entire new album, due for release early next year, in order, without the slightest ping of discomfort from a crowd that was clearly in the palm of their hands, although not familiar with the material. And, as they were joined by two additional musicians for the remainder of the set, I was thrilled to see Low grow to a band of five. If this set was any indication, this new album is going to be amazing, and, maybe, one of their best. Very mature, thoughtful and revealing songwriting

The sound was massive and the vocals, for the first time with a third singer, absolutely overwhelming. After finishing up the new album they launched into a set of five or six Christmas songs, including "Blue Christmas" which Mimi sang with astonishing clarity and her stunning vocal pitch. "Little Drummer Boy" never sounded like this before, and a song called
"Santa Is Coming Over", done in the Low style, sounded more like Godzilla was coming over.

I was stunned by this concert and now think Low is one of the greatest live acts on earth.


No comments: