Friday, February 7, 2003, Manchester, UK
"I had so much to say."
First time I saw Low they were supporting Come at the London Garage and Kramer was doing their sound. They were enjoyable but I didn't feel motivated to rush out and buy their records. Since then they've just kept getting better and better, growing ever more assured, confident and orgasmic. Last week Low played the best gig I ever saw them do. The sound was perfect, immaculate, accentuating their pin drop precision, and the large crowd was held enraptured in awe. From the opener "Candy Girl" it was clearly the perfect fuck music, tragic make out make up for the last fling before she flies over the ocean. It had all the controlled intensity of their spartan Joy Division "Transmission" cover that had held the Star and Garter so enraptured on earlier trips to Manchester. The way Alan Sparhawk turns and strums at Mimi Parker and the way she taps calm heartbeat assurance is PURE SEX. It's so obvious Mimi is his his candy girl, and this is the sweet molten core of Low's slowburning genius. Alan and Mimi (ahem, and bassist Zack Sally) have fashioned a music that twists and turns with all the ups and downs of an intensely consummated relationship. "Candy Girl" also shows that maybe Steve Albini has had a little more influence on Low than just recording them. Alan throws out subtle jags of guitar skree at oblique angles to the heartbreak beat. The song cuts dead and they launch into the Peel-popular "That's How You Sing Amazing Grace" and the relatively stompin' "Canada" single. How can that Sparhawk dude sing "In the Drugs" without bursting into tears? It surely is one of the saddest songs I ever heard. Then there's the spaghetti western malevolance of "John Prine," a dark ode to revenge so quietly fiercesome it could ignite blue flames of paranoia in anyone who ever crossed a softspoken Duluth musician. Low can even make dear ol' drippy Roger Waters seem profound, with their majestic cover of "Fearless." On the way to the gig I was almost run over by a speeding car escaping gross corporate slavewage superstore. I had been moderately distracted by Come in my headphones, which would've been a fine thing to hear with my dying breath, but it was no time to leave the planet. A glimpse of mortality is always a lever for heightened sensuality. Don't waste your days with mediocre piffle. You might die tomorrow. Hurry up materialise, don't just threaten to. Flirt, take drugs, booze, shoot the shit with the people who are worth the effort. Soundtrack it with a band that fucking matters, and then some! Low are serious as your life.
"Now I'm gonna make them pay."