The Minnesota-based band Low arrived in Oslo on Wednesday night for the first time since the release of their critically acclaimed album»‘Double Negative» last year.
Low have been creating subtle, ambient indie rock for over 25 years, during which their live shows mainly have stuck to similar formula. Minimalist guitars and drums combined with soft vocal harmonies from married couple Alan Sparhawk (guitar) and Mimi Parker (drums) create a delicate, emotive and captivating experience.
A shift in direction
Over the following 90 minutes the band blend new material with a range of their substantial back catalogue.
When the band take to the Parkteatret stage on Wednesday, it’s clear that, despite the new sound on «Double Negative», there haven’t been too many changes made to the live setup. There is little electronic equipment in use; instead the band stick to the usual instruments to deliver slightly adapted versions of the new material, beginning with Always Up and Quorum from the new album, both of which build from quiet intros to epic finales to great effect.
Over the following 90 minutes the band blend new material with a range of their substantial back catalogue. They even go as far back as 1996 with Do you Know How to Waltz?, which ends in a long drawn out wall of noise. With the basic stage backdrop of three separate sets of LED strips silhouetting the band, these instrumental breakdowns can feel more like an art gallery installation than an indie rock show.
The set is missing a few old favourites that have previously been mainstays of Low shows.
This isn’t helped by the lack of inter-song chat from the band, who aren’t famed for being outgoing and talkative on stage. On the one occasion that Sparhawk does stop to address the crowd, he explains with good humor that their quietness in fact stems from Scandinavian influence: “please excuse our lack interaction, we come from an area in the US that has experienced a lot of Swedish and Norwegian immigration, and they taught us not to talk”. Thankfully, the audience gets the joke.
From a personal point of view, the set is missing a few old favourites that have previously been mainstays of Low shows, including several tracks from the fantastic 2005 album «The Great Destroyer» as well as Sunflower from 2001’s «Things We Lost in the Fire». One can forgive the band for wanting to freshen things up. They do, however, save a classic for last – the track Murderer is a dark song with morbid lyrics, but it shows off the voices of Sparhawk and Parker and how well they harmonise together. Even for those who haven’t completely converted to the new direction the band have taken with these shows, Murderer serves as the perfect reminder for how great Low can be.
Low @ Parkteatret 13.02.2019: 7/10