Whelans', Dublin, Ireland
Saturday, 18 November 2000
with Joan of Arse
Sssshhh! We've seen so many bands bring their 'pin drop' sounds to this stage, only to be faced with the merciless chatter of the bar and the clamorous over-spill of students in search of the late-nite indie disco. But Minnesota's Low are greeted with no such irreverence. Maybe it's because they don't really fit so comfortably alongside their (alleged) slow-core peers. Their pace and volume (slow and, naturally, low) isn't dictated by indie introspection. They have power in spades. They have clarity. Words which must be heard. Songs that take hold of your senses. Pop tunes so tender and bruised they'll stop you in your tracks and disarm you of your scepticism.
So here we are, some 300 of us, exchanging glancing smiles of approval, satisfied not to slurp our pints or press too hard on Whelans' creaking floorboards. Mimi Parker stands before her low-budget drum-kit, the slow beats making space for the lush vocal harmony. Her husband and guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk hushes over a tale of "airplanes" and "bright red snowflakes" ('Dinosaur Act'). 'Over the Ocean' (from 1998's 'One More Reason To Forget' EP) recalls the sweet sedation of the Velvets, although stripped of their drugs. Low are calm and concentrated, but still full of surprises.
They bring on Joss from support act Joan Of Arse to apply some unrehearsed bowed-saw on 'Two Step', 'Weight Of The Water' and 'Soon', replacing what could've been an austere violin ache with a warm and wobbly flutter. It's all in the moment. They audience, mouths agape, eyes entranced, would make for a wondrous snapshot. And the song about 'Lice Boy' ("Be nice to the boy with lice") is a fuzzy paean to the underdog. But Low aren't miserable for a moment. Reflective, yes. Poignant, to be sure. But a belly full of warmth to the finish.