So Low Then So High

Couldn’t get tickets to see Low at the Union Chapel in London so decided to go see them in Brighton instead.  I discovered Low very late in the day when their last album, Drums and Guns, came out last year.  I was blown away by it’s sparse, bleak beauty.  God knows where I have been hiding my head for all their previous albums. 

Ok, so drove down to Brighton with my flatmate, met another friend at the train station, made our way to St George’s Church.  “Is that the venue?” asked my friend.  “Of course it is” I replied, “look at the TYPES outside”.  Arty, scruffy, you know the sort. 

St George’s is a nice venue, although it doesn’t compare to the Union Chapel.  First up were The Helio Sequence.  I’d had a listen to their album before the gig and had mixed feelings about it.  Some nice tracks and well-crafted songs, but all a bit Christian folk-rockish for my tastes.  On the night, they sounded good, the singer had a really strong and melodic voice and the drumming was energetic, but still that Christian folk-rockish thing going on which I just can’t get past.  My friend thought that one track (the appropriately named ‘Hallelujah’) sounded like the kind of thing a trendy ‘in a rock band’ vicar might play to try and enthuse ‘the kids’ to love jesus.  too true. 

Ah Low.  Dream-like, Christian-tinged miserablism.  Bleak, beautiful doom-mongering.  First let me get the criticisms out of the way.  Their set list contained a couple of really bum choices.  They played ‘Hatchet’ for starters – the one track on Drums & Guns that I can’t stand.  To play that and leave out literally dozens of much better tracks from their back catalogue….  Also I didn’t much appreciate their arrangement of Breaker (pretty much my favourite track) – they chose to ‘rock it up’ thus losing much of the heartbreaking subtlety. 

Right, carping over.  Now on to the waxing lyrical.  They played lots of fantastic tracks (mainly from Drums & Guns and The Great Destroyer).  Too many highlights to list.  Their voices were strong and sure.  Their desolate harmonies sounded indescribably beautiful and moving.  As their voices soared upwards into the church rafters then suddenly dropped down, I sat absolutely transfixed and wouldn’t have wished myself anywhere else.  

Some nice banter with the crowd.  Alan told us to ‘talk among your peers or make an announcement’ at one point while he restrung his guitar.  A crowd member announced a fight on sunday, but it turned out it was actually a village fete.  This made everyone laugh quite hard.  

Good drive home too.  Open road, boiled sweets, music, company. 




2 Responses to “So Low Then So High”

  1. Ant Says:

    They were great. I love “In Metal” amongst many other things.

  2. Adam Says:

    The first time is unforgettable. I remember mine, a freezing Tuesday in February (perfect Low weather) and a long, slidy trek to the Queens Hall on the other side of Edinburgh. They were amazing and the opening notes of Two-Step made me make a strange yelp of excitement that I don’t think I have ever done before or since. Chips on the way home, who could ask for more?

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