Low / Richard Youngs – The Tramway, Glasgow – Tuesday 26th January 2019
Glasgow. School night. These are not propitious omens given my history of missing Low shows since I started buying the records . Yet if anyone’s worth the hassle of a midweek show in Glasgow, then it has to be Low, particularly on the back of last year’s daring LP ‘Double Negative’.
Opener for the show is Richard Youngs, who fulfilled the same role with Lee Ranaldo a couple of years back. Some of the set is familiar from that show. There’s the opening number in which Youngs stamps his foot next to a guitar to change the harmonics caused by a tuner resting on the strings (and which inevitably falls off on occasion) and also the largely acapella song, which is punctuated by shouts. What I don’t remember is the last song where Richard packs his gear away during the last song whilst continuing to sing. This ultimately provokes a couple of boos from the audience but I confess I thought it was quite funny.
Youngs shapes folk through chants and drones into something quite unique. Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps but he certainly does enough to stand out from the crowd.
Low deliver a set which is largely shorn of the dissonance and disruption of ‘Double Negative’. With the newer songs played straight, it’s interesting just how much of 2 or 3 of the songs are effectively hidden on the album.
The theme of dissonance is applied to the screen behind the band which comprises there columns of approximately a couple of dozen strips displaying moving images and colours behind the band.
But it’s fair to say that almost all of ‘Double Negative’ is revealed anew whilst the selections from the back catalogue range back to ‘Lazy’ from the debut to a handful from ‘Ones & Sixes’ including personal favourites in ‘The Innocents’ and ‘Lies’.
There’s also a stunning, lengthy ‘Do You Know How To Waltz’ mid-set with its impact heightened by the lighting. From there on, with the exception of a haunting ‘Especially Me’ and the aforementioned ‘Lies’ the run-in includes some of the strongest new songs including ‘Fly’ and a powerful ‘Disarray’ to finish the set.
It’s a spellbinding set with little in the way of between song chat. Whilst shorter than the Gateshead show, I actually enjoyed this one more. In a lot of ways it dealt in the unexpected, as it was never likely to have been the noisefest that ‘Double Negative’ might have suggested.
I may have been late to the party but remarkably twenty five years on from their debut, Low continue to find new ways to present their music. Long may that continue.