Low – Bristol Trinity Centre

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After a couple of years gap suddenly two gigs at Trinity in space of three days. Tonight it is for Low, supported by Sleeping Dog. Tonight is not a night for the teenager it seems, mostly people are of my age (well perhaps the age I think I should be but haven’t been for a while) reflecting most likely the 20 year career of the band.

The Trinity has no backdrops tonight just the bare wooden panelling and devotional paintings of Moses and his posse, nothing to adorn the stage but the instruments. The entry music was variously a set of piano etudes and Roger Chapman’s Family era tracks, the dichotomy setting a considered tone to the evening.

Sleeping Dog were unknown to me – a boy/girl or man/woman duo if you prefer – piano and heavily treated guitar mostly. The orchestral tag to their music was indeed very fitting. Chantal Acda has a crystalline vocal which hovers over the Nyman -esque piano all underpinned by a remarkable guitar sound of Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie, pushed through a synth to generate almost church organ sounds. The Bristol crowd did what it does best and listened with appropriate attention and respect. Their music has an almost hypnotic effect, pulling an emotional punch from the gossamer thin melodies. Well here is something to add to that foolish list of “good things that come from Belgium “. Regrettably they had to run after their set and so the merch was not available after Low, and being too sad to give up my spot at the front I will have to get their (third) album, With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields, from elsewhere, for instance the Gizeh Records bandcamp site

After the Low band members sorted their kit out, with a noticeable and pleasing lack of roadies wandering around with interminable fiddling and muttering into mics, they took the stage without a word and delivered a blistering Nothing But Heart from C’mon. Alan Sparhawk wrenches the most wonderful distorted and reverb drench sounds from his Gibson. But he equally provides delicate and sensitive music from the same instrument.

Mimi Parker also manages to provide a level of finesse from her very modest collection of drums and cymbals, all playing from her trademark standing position. Indeed that is probably the characteristic of the whole band – a quality and deftness of playing without any sense of flashiness. Steve Garrington for instance plays his Fender with a lyricism and sensitivity that belies his diffident stance on stage.

As was to be expected C’mon gets appropriate full coverage, usually in groups of two or three songs interspersed with material from their extensive back catalogue. Not that any song was less than captivating but of especial note from the new album was, of course, Nothing But Heart, a suitably majestic Majesty/Magic and a fine rendition of my favourite track Especially Me.

A band of very few words on stage virtually nothing much was said to the packed Trinity crowd (who were reverential in their attention – lots of sushing ensured silence between songs but rapturous applause at the end of each). But Sparhawk introduced Murderer from Drums and Guns by bringing “greetings from a country where we dance in the streets when we assassinate someone” of course referring to the Bin Laden affair.

Without providing a full set list (not least because I can’t, although seemed pretty much the same as Manchester methinks) it would be remiss not to mention remarkable versions of songs like Violent Past, Amazing Grace and, best, Monkey. This is remarkable music, a power and aggression without bombast, a delicacy and softness without saccharin, a band that as Sparhawk has said, has always stood ‘outside’ which is no doubt the reason for their edge, their authenticity and connection to their legions of supporters.

Recognising the ecstatic response, Sparhawk acknowledged the longstanding loyalty and support of the fan base and when at the end, hands clasped together, he said “this is a good feeling” you had a sense that he really did mean it.

PS apologies to @IDSupremo for bombarding him with texts as I tried to look inconspicuous all alone up front before the start – am I tragic or what?

PPS full marks to @trinitybristol for the excellent sound (again) tonight

PPPS a review of Low (vid of Witches) and Mercury Rev at the Paris Bataclan May 25th, from Stephane

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3 Responses to Low – Bristol Trinity Centre

  1. Idsupremo says:

    Not at all a problem – enjoyed the banter (felt like I was there with you)… Loved your description of the sound from the Gibson ahhhhhh!

    Thanks for the inclusion – always enjoy!

  2. Pingback: Low / Mercury Rev play “Deserter’s Songs”, Paris, Bataclan, 25th May 2011 « Virgins and Philistines

  3. Great review for a great band!
    I saw them in Paris this week opening for Mercury Rev. I believe there is now a direct Eurostar line from Bristol to Paris… Here is the link : http://virginsandphilistines.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/low-mercury-rev-play-deserters-songs-paris-bataclan-25th-may-2011/
    Cheers.

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