Thursday, September 11, 2008

Low, Sansanna @ Barby

You've got to hand it to the promoters for putting forth the effort in finding the perfect opening band for Low, that is, they found a local group that sounds exactly like them. Sansanna bring out the best in the silence between the notes, just like the headliners, and maximize the sound for their effort in part by reverbing the drums more than I ever thought that drums could be reverbed.

But Low are beyond spectacular tonight, easily blowing away the previous two shows I saw by them. It's been a long time since that most recent show -- in 2002, on the "Trust" tour, and a lot has happened to the band both professionally (two more albums, a box set), and personally (Alan Sparhawk's health). "The Great Destroyer", released in 2005, rejuvenated Low's career by jolting them out of the sweet n soft habits that had threatened to become stale over their previous albums. Although "The Great Destroyer" is sadly underrepresented tonight, its pomp and aggressiveness are all over tonight's set. There are still plenty of moments when one can hear a pin drop (and the all too common crunch of someone stepping on a discarded paper cup), but also transcendent moments of improvised noise such as the searing conclusion to "Untitled" from "Things We Lost in the Fire". The kick in the teeth that was initiated by "The Great Destroyer" has subtlely transformed the band into more spellbinding, arresting performers. Sparhawk sings with more passion and energy than I've ever heard from him, and Mimi Parker has never been in finer voice.

Remarkably, this turns out to be one of the longest gigs that Low have ever played. Beginning with a flurry of short songs (mainly from "Drums and Guns"), the shift to wigging out starts with a furious take on "John Prine", continues through two encores and two hours of Low from start to finish.

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