One of my live highlights of the year, it’s been great to see the success and profile of The Low Anthem grow over the past 6 months. The year began with tiny shows (I first caught them at Brighton’s Ocean Rooms basement at The Great Escape, playing to around 100 people), moving on to sold out shows at the Union Chapel, and now the Tabernacle, along with many festival performances. Next Feb they’re playing at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a well deserved step up, but will it lose the intimacy that has made their other shows so enjoyable?
This was a one off show for London, to coincide with their appearance on ‘Later with Jools Holland’, which I believe was their first TV performance. You can catch the performance of ‘To Ohio’ here (available until next Fri evening) – I’ve saved you the hassle of having to skip past David Gray, however you might want to check out The Decemberists’ peformance on the show too!
The main focus of the set was most recent album ‘Oh My God, Charlie Darwin’, with many of the albums high points being present. Lead singer Ben Knox Miller displayed his beautifully soft falsetto on tracks ‘Cage The Songbird’ and title track ‘Charlie Darwin’, but also got to show a more rough and bluesy side on ‘Home I’ll Never Be’. Of the other louder tracks from the album, ‘Champion Angel’ was sadly left out, and ‘The Horizon Is A Beltway’ was present, but in a more stripped back new arrangement. My set highlight is the fantastic ‘Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around’, which opens with a fantastic double bass solo by Jeff Prystowsky, with Ben belting out vocals and drums, and Jocie Adams on guitar & vocals. This song in particular allows each member to demonstrate their some of their strongest performances. I would normally have a preference for Jeff on drums (where he makes it look so effortless and cool), but in this track his double bass playing is used to great effect.
The rest of the set featured a few oldies (‘Senorita’ and ‘This God Damn House’ from previous album ‘What The Crow Brings’), and some new tracks and maybe covers that I was less familiar with. The core three members – and multi-instrumentalists – Ben, Jeff and Jocie, are often joined by friends and guests for the odd song. This performance featured a guest musician throughout the whole show (who’s name I can’t remember sorry) a possible permanent new member Matt (thanks Anthony!), playing amongst other things organ, and providing backing vocals.
So how did it compare with previous performances? It could have done with a few more livelier numbers, and didn’t quite match the intimate brilliance of their recent Hoxton Hall show, but it was a fine performance and the crowd seemed very appreciative. I’m already looking forward to Shepherd’s Bush and the recently confirmed slot at End Of The Road 2010!