Andrew Petrie

On a slow night

American trio Low are what you get when a band evolves far from the established music scenes of laidback California and buzzing NYC. Fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, their sound evokes the relative isolation and five-month winters of their native Duluth, Minnesota, with glacial tempos and minimal arrangements, laced with almost folky two-part harmony. Now, nine albums into their career, they can sell out the Barbican’s main hall.

American trio Low are what you get when a band evolves far from the established music scenes of laidback California and buzzing NYC. Fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, their sound evokes the relative isolation and five-month winters of their native Duluth, Minnesota, with glacial tempos and minimal arrangements, laced with almost folky two-part harmony. Now, nine albums into their career, they can sell out the Barbican’s main hall.

American trio Low are what you get when a band evolves far from the established music scenes of laidback California and buzzing NYC. Fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, their sound evokes the relative isolation and five-month winters of their native Duluth, Minnesota, with glacial tempos and minimal arrangements, laced with almost folky two-part harmony. Now, nine albums into their career, they can sell out the Barbican’s main hall.

Low’s new album C’mon contains some of their sweetest melodies yet, and they perform all of it at the Barbican. The band’s lovingly underproduced recordings make for a live show that mimics their studio releases almost exactly, which is both a blessing and a curse: harsh, excessively repetitious songs like ‘Nothing But Heart’ gain little from live interpretation. Gentler songs such as ‘Nightingale’ and ‘Silver Rider’ soar, however. Indeed, it’s the stillness at the heart of even their most turbulent songs that makes Low sound like no one else, for which we can thank those keening spousal harmonies. Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant recognised this quality and covered two of their lilting duets on his Grammy-nominated Band of Joy album last year.

Most bands get louder as the show goes on and encore with their most exuberant number; the fact that Low only get quieter, and end with the delicate female vocals and barely-there guitar of ‘Laser Beam’, suggests they too know where their strengths lie.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Or

Unlock more articles

REGISTER

Comments

Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in