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Tonight the Scala is rammed to bursting point, full of expectant souls, waiting for Minnesota three-piece Low to deliver a sermon of hymn-like affirmations. Mimi Parker stands centre stage surrounded by all the percussion instruments she could need. Zak Sally and Alan Sparhawk stand either side of her, it’s almost_ a line; a united front.
From the moment the first chord is unleashed, such unity comes into its own and the sound is surprisingly powerful. Every contributing layer effortlessly melts together, particularly Sparhawk and Parker’s crystal-clear vocals, which merge and separate almost unnoticeably. Live, this muscularity fleshes out ‘Canada’ allowing Sparhawk the freedom to add just a little more distortion and mess than you’d expect, whilst the velveteen pleas of ‘Laser Beam’ are supported enough to resonate to the rafters before decaying into the deadly silence of the world Low have created. A world as precise and enchanting as you’d expect making the cavernous surroundings miraculously seem intimate.
After a few new tracks lifted from the forthcoming album** are aired to provide some relatively upbeat, jangly pop to the evening’s proceedings, crowd-pleasers ‘Dinosaur Act’, ‘Will the Night’ and ‘(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace’ ensure Low have given us the full emotional workout.
Low could play all night and still not satisfy every request getting screamed desperately during their encore as their set draws to a close. The selection of tracks desired encompasses every album, surely testament to the quality of their entire back catalogue. But even at this late stage of the evening, their ability to orchestrate the cheers is perfect. ‘Two-Step’ is played straight down the line, simple and impassioned, instantly becoming a set highlight, a moment to treasure.
Alan tells us, in tones as soft as he sings, that there are some songs in tonight’s set that despite being written three or four years ago only now they can "do"; I feel privileged to have witnessed an hour and a half of perfection.
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