Jan 20, 2008

Low @ Famous Spiegeltent

My last visit to the Famous Spiegeltent during the Sydney Festival turned out to be a rewarding and very satisfying one. As part of the Don't Look Back series, Minnesota trio Low played their 2001 album "Things We Lost in the Fire", in full. Now I am far from being a Low acolyte, in fact I only possess two albums. The afore mentioned, and their latest "Drums and Guns". So I was hoping that this would be a great experience, especially as I can understand the praise heaped on this wonderful album, but also aware that perhaps the music can be a little too slow at times. Thankfully, I received a wonderful experience. Floating melodies, atmospheric guitar chords and ominous tones filled the venerable venue as the rain beated down outside. Saturday night in Sydney once again had magic hanging in the air.

Of course we knew the set list (I have produced it below if anyone was unfamiliar with their work), but I think the opportunity to hear a great album from start to finish is a rare one, one to be relished. The gorgeous melody of "Sunflower" wafted through the air, a perfect start. An aspect of the night that was fulfilling was that I was gaining more and more from each song as I heard them in the live arena. Of course great songs like "Dinosaur Act" are well known, although it still sent a chill down the spine. But it was other songs that I maybe have overlooked that grew in stature. "Embrace" was a stalking, ominous beast with its slow drumming. "Like A Forest" was deliriously uplifting, whilst "In Metal" simply hummed with its sublime melody. However my two highlights were my favourite song, the impossibly tender "Laser Beam", where Mimi's voice stroked my heart, and "Whore". The power went out just before "Whore", so Matt switched to the grand piano situated off stage, whilst Alan and Mimi combined to sing acapella. A gorgeous moment. I should mention the 3 band members in full. Alan Sparhawk sings with great tenderness and heart, his guitar playing firm and authoritative. Mimi Parker drums over a simple kit, using brushes and mallets. And her voice, simply stunning, with its high pitch and great range. Matt Livingston sits quietly in between, dressed in a dapper suit, playing effective piano and bass guitar. Together, they produce an ethereal tapestry of slow and moving music. There were a couple of songs that tended to glide past you a bit and the band didn't speak much. They let their music do the talking, although it has been suggested that more stories told about the creation of the album would add to the night. I can see this point, but I still experienced a great night of music from Low, playing their classic album "Things We Lost In The Fire".

Set List (The last two songs are B Sides)
Dinosaur Act
Medicine Magazines
Laser Beam
Kind Of Girl
Like A Forest
In Metal
Don't Carry It All


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