Friday, 27 August 2010

The Low Anthem

Having previously performed at prestigious venues such as L.A’s Troubadour, New York’s Bowery Ballroom and SXSW, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury festival, Pocklington Arts Centre, Near York, is the last place you would expect to find U.S, Providence based The Low Anthem, but I did.

It was like unearthing a human time capsule and discovering members of the Manson family had tumbled down the cracked sidewalks of Laurel Canyon 40 years too late. The band took to the stage and for the next two hours strapped me to my chair (the venue was seated) and brainwashed me into believing I was having the best two hours I'd ever had (sitting down).

Performing tonnes of new material, the lead singer, Ben Knox Miller, went from sounding like Cat Stevens to Bob Dylan and surpassing himself on the way back down as Nick Drake. His range is amazingly incomprehensible but utterly perfect whatever the vocal arrangement and he’s always got plenty of breath left to blast one out on the harmonica.

The band’s sole female, Josie Adams, accompaniment came unexpectedly. The timid, yet obviously gifted musician’s vocals go unnoticed on the album Oh My God Charlie Darwin, but when she opened her mouth you could hear the Pocklington collective gasp at her surprisingly powerful voice.

Jeff Prystowsky and his award winning moustache performed his duties with such fervour that his fellow band-members were glaring at him as if he was going to break their precious instruments. In fact, he was beating the drums so emphatically that, at one point, his drumstick flew out of his hand and almost impaled a member of the audience and as if dissatisfied with the result of his first attempt, later repeated the trick with his microphone. The whole band displayed their talents by playing a variety of instruments ranging from the clarinets to a rusty saw and even a couple of mobile phones. Jeff, like the others was multi-gifted and played the double bass impeccably and with similar oomph. There is a fine line between performing with vigorous passion and attempting to achieve an aneurysm and he walked that line like a tightrope, which in effect was wonderfully entertaining.

Leaving the stage after a climatic and raucous rendition of There’s a Hole in My Bucket (It was so much better than it looks in Ariel font). The Manson family wander offstage with a friendly wave and their brainwashing session has achieved its desired result, making it impossible to pick highlights from a two hour set that made my face ache from grinning inanely.

There is something wholesome and genuinely authentic about The Low Anthem's folk roots which makes it almost impossible to believe that they exist in the same dimension of time. You believe every lyric, even when it is delivered with sardonic wit and you want them to have every success in ‘their’ world but in the contemporary world, and particularly in the music industry, success often equals pollution and it would be wrong to taint the ethereal purity in which The Low Anthem comfortably exists.

The Low Anthem on Later with Jools Holland

Listen to more on Low Anthem's MySpace

Visit The Low Anthem's official Site

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