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Review: Getting Low down and dirty at the Royal Festival Hall. Written by Cordelia Cembrowicz

The highlight of my musical year so far came last Tuesday, with the appearance of Low at the Southbank's Royal Festival Hall.  It was an impressive live performance by the legendary band, who will be back in the UK as part of their European tour this summer.  
 
In case you don't know, Low are from Duluth Minnesota the original home of Bob Dylan. The band consist of husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk (guitar), and Mimi Parker (drums) who provide the most amazing vocal, as well as bassist Steve Garrington and guest a keyboard player for this tour.  They have been going since 1992, and have released 9 albums over the years.  
 
It is the earnest vocal harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker that give the band their distinct sound.  The married couple’s voices go together like strawberries and cream.  Their songs are like lullaby’s for grown-ups.  Often exploring questions of a religious or moral nature.  This is undoubtedly fuelled by the band’s religious faith - both Sparhawk and Parker are practicing mormons.  I would say the level of moral enquiry is universal, and doesn't demand that you share in their religious beliefs - its quite refreshing.  Songs slowly unfold to grow from gentle quiet refrains into loud powerful movements, full of emotion.  Their sound is often labelled slowcore but self defined as minimalist, originating from experiments playing quiet music to post/punk audiences in the nineties.

On stage the band were cooly understated, and perfectly composed throughout the performance. This time they mostly played songs from the 2011 album C’Mon. Sparhawk curled up his face in frustration during certain songs, and like a proper rock legend casually played the guitar with his teeth. The set was cleverly accompanied by an installational treat created for the night by artist Peter Liversidge, a 3 screen projection of slowed down archival footage, featuring early aeroplane acrobatic feats and windmill sail balancing acts that would make your toes curl.  They opened the show with my personal favourite – Nothing but Heart, to a backdrop including a man freeing himself from a straight jacket, dangling upside down from a moving plane. A spell binding combination! Robert Plant is a big fan, and covered 2 songs on his 2010 solo album Band of Joy, winning himself a Grammy for his version of Silver Rider.

All in all it was an excellent evening and they are an excellent band.  Go and see them when they are back this summer.  Gold stars all round!

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