Low – Vicar Street – Live Review – 17/10/18 – by Killian Laher
A relatively large venue for Low this time out, perhaps due to the considerable attention new album Double Negative has received. Support came from Katie Kim, accompanying herself on a dominant, almost oppressive keyboard. Playing originals like the ‘kind of new’ Gentle Little Bird, watching the set felt slightly uncomfortable, almost like you were intruding. She threw in a cover of Scott Walker’s Farmer in the City, ‘for fun’, though if she was having fun it wasn’t obvious.
At this point in their career, Low are a well-oiled machine. This was the last night of a European tour and the band were on good form. Playing selections from Double Negative, the material was reworked and stripped back for a live setting, with Quorum and Tempest taking their time to become recognisable.
The three of them often appeared to lose themselves in the music. Alan Sparhawk on the left belting out titanic, Crazy Horse-style guitar riffs, punctuated by matching head jerks, with Steve Garrington on the right conveying every bass note with his upper body. At the centre of it all the performance was anchored by Mimi Parker’s drumming and soaring, flawless vocals.
As well as material from the new album, they played selections from their last couple of releases. A heavy, euphoric version of Nothing But Heart was followed up by a lump-in-the-throat inducing, Holy Ghost, featuring a beautiful vocal from Parker. Elsewhere they indulged more experimental tendencies with a pounding version of Always Up mixing into Do You Know How To Waltz, featuring a lengthy rumbling passage of bass and guitar drones. It felt like boundaries were being pushed even now on this 22-year-old track. Similarly the subtle groans Sparhawk coaxed out of his guitar on Spanish Translation were innovative and added to the song. They even reached back to their debut album to give Lazy an airing.
The set was gripping and compelling, a later highlight was Dancing and Fire which built up from a fragile opening to an intense climax. Encoring with Murderer, they delivered high intensity while avoiding bombast. While not for the faint-hearted, Low have got to the point where they have transcended their ‘slowcore’ origins and carved out their own niche. Seeing them play live is probably the truest manifestation of that.
Set List –
2. No Comprende
3. Plastic Cup
4. The Innocents
6. Always Up
7. Do You Know How To Waltz
9. Always Trying To Work It Out
10. Poor Sucker
11. Dancing and Blood
12. Spanish Translation
13. Nothing But Heart
14. Holy Ghost
17. Dancing and Fire