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Musik-Tanz-Club, Cologne, Germany, 01.11.1999

"More Smog than Slayer" (Alan Sparhawk, Low)

I think it would be very hard not to like Low. Actually, I think it's impossible. Becuase what we get from Low - on record and live on stage - is pure feeling, pure emotion and in today's world where everything has to be bigger and brighter that's very rare indeed.

"Well, we sound more like Smog than Slayer" singer Alan Sparhawk had joked when I'd met him in New York earlier this year, but very much unlike Smog it seems to be Low's motive to make people happy. Of course, most of their songs are not only very minimalistic and melancholic, they are also on the verge of being depressive, yet the three of them manage to create a certain atmosphere on stage that almost has healing power.

They didn't talk much on stage tonight, but not because they didn't want to, just because they thought their (German-speaking) audience wouldn't understand what they are saying anyways. And because Low didn't want to embarrass their audience, they rather did not talk much at all. Or so it seemed. They basically did all the songs you could possibly hope for, too, including the highlights from this summer's Secret Name album, Soon and Starfire, which almost made your correspondent cry. A gorgeous Over The Ocean was followed by a sublime Long Way Around The Sea ("try to figure out the connection between the songs," Alan joked), but the real fun started, when after Joan Of Arc their setlist ended and they had to improvise the second half of the show. So we got the very welcome "funny tune" in their repertoire, The Lice Song, which includes the very memorable last line: "so please be nice to people with lice," and they even did some requests as well, including a very uplifting version of Immune, which made the promoter from their German record label jump up and down as if she was at a Cypress Hill concert ...

And as Alan observed correctly, "it's never too early to do a christmas song" (it was the first of November after all!) and so we got drummer Mimi Parker sing Blue Christmas for us, a song featured on the staggeringly beautiful new Low album Christmas, which the New Musical Express recently quite rightly called "the best christmas album in the world ... ever." So Low made us weep once more, but hardly ever before did it feel so good being close to tears.

Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Low articles/reviews: C'mon, Low-talk with Mimi Parker, No Comprende, Ones and Sixes, Some Hearts (At Christmas Time), The Great Destroyer, The Invisible Way, Things We Lost In The Fire, Trust, Whelan's, Dublin, 18.11.2000.

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