Low - review of Paris '99 - Anthony, Are You Around?
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Low, Paris '99: Anthony, Are You Around? (P-Vine; 2001) -- 8/12

A live Low show can be an amazing experience and can change your opinion of the band from mere liking to pure utter devotion. The first time I saw Low play was right before The Curtain Hits the Cast came out. I drove 8 hours out of state with some friends so that we could see them play. They played all favorites from their earlier albums, and played songs from their forthcoming album. Besides being completely amazed by how perfectly they balanced the delicate yet powerful nature of their songs, I was also blown away with how they were able to create an atmosphere with their performance that was so peaceful and reverent that it was an incredibly introspective and thought provoking experience.

Low's newest release, Paris '99 "Anthony, Are You Around?", follows their 1998 live album, One More Reason to Forget, as the band's second official live release. It is a live recording of their first show in Paris were they could actually play in a club (not on a boat or in a record store). Most of the songs they played are from the then newly released Secret Name, (including "Home," "Starfire," "Weight of Water," "Two-Step," etc.) but the album also includes songs from earlier albums and singles that they rarely played live (including "No Need," "Joan of Arc," "Lazy," and "Rope").

Unlike a lot of official live albums, Paris '99 "Anthony, Are You Around?" has a very casual feel to it. It is more like a bootleg than an official live release. There is little to no editing of the stage banter and dialog between the band and the sound guy, and since the recording comes straight from the sound mixing board, the vocals are mixed higher than the music (since the audience can already hear the music directly from the amps on stage). Because of the high vocal mix, it is a lot more obvious the few times when Alan and Mimi are slightly off of each other (not too often), and you can hear Mimi quietly clearing her throat a number of times between versus of a few songs.

All that said, the lack of editing and the high vocal mix does give the listener a more voyeuristic enjoyment of the show. It is more like you were actually there, right next to the band... hearing Mimi clear her throat. While that doesn't really make up for the lack of quality in the recording, Paris '99 "Anthony, Are You Around?" captures an amazing Low performance, with them playing a wonderfully diverse collection of songs. So, while Paris '99 "Anthony, Are You Around?" can't quite compare to 1998s One More Reason to Forget, it is a nice treat for diehard fans like myself.

- daron gardner, 20 July 2001