Saturday, July 29, 2006

Low, Koko, London, 27.7.06

Low's Things We Lost in the Fire apparently falls into the genre of 'sadcore', which 1. is even sillier than 'grindie' and 2. sounds like something a panicked MP would say if he was asked about cannabis in front of a group of sixth-formers. Also, I wouldn't say Things was sad so much as uplifting (although that in itself is a bit of a Richard and Judy's Book Club expression). Anyway, Thursday's gig was probably the most moving concert I've ever attended, but then how could it be otherwise?

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, Don't Look Back (which is an appendage of the All Tomorrow's Parties series of festivals) ask bands to play their magnum opus in order from start to finish. Simon Reynolds has coined the term 'anachronesis' for what might be seen as a sterile obsession with reproducing past glories, but I think such criticisms are frankly pretty sadcore. The biggest triumph so far has been (so I'm told) the Stooges doing 1970's Fun House last year. Things We Lost in the Fire, by contrast, came out in 2001, which is not very long for an album to enter the canon, but I can't believe people won't still be listening to it in another thirty years – it's a record of staggering beauty and emotional penetration, a true work of art. And I'm clearly not the only one who loves it, because the original gig sold out so fast that ATP added a second night. There wasn't a dry eye in the house on Thursday, except, of course, among the journalists, as it is now standard in the industry to have your tear ducts surgically removed so that, in their place, can be put a hunk of extra brain tissue specifically designed to help you cope with the psychic trauma when your editor forces you to write something nice about Keane.

There were no surprises. Alan and Mimi Sparhawk were joined by a bassist, violinist, and keyboardist, and they faithfully reproduced the album in all its slow, haunting glory. I could really have written this review before the gig. (The only thing that threw me was how loud it got. Low are known as a quiet band - or they were before The Great Destroyer - but they pull no punches live.) Some might wonder if there's any point to a gig that's quite so predictable, but seeing the emotion on Alan Sparhawk's rugged face was really something. Plus, they pulled out some other songs for the encores, like 'Canada' from Trust and 'When I Go Deaf' from The Great Destroyer, although sadly not my personal favourite, 'Two Step' from Secret Name.

So where next for Don't Look Back? I'd love to see ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead do Source Tags and Codes.


mnemonic said...

You should have been there on Wednesday for Two Step. We asked so nicely for it.

Ned Beauman said...