The Low Anthem, 14.11.11. Leeds Irish Centre

The Low AnthemI was put onto The Low Anthem a couple of years ago, and recently got Lady A to listen to some of their concert recordings. Safe to say she wasn’t 100 per cent convinced, but agreed to make the trip.

It was a bit surprising to find two support acts. The first, Admiral Fallow from Scotland, were…okay. Pleasant enough way to pass half an hour or so , and an unusual combination of instruments, but nothing to tempt us to further investigate.

William Elliott Whitmore is someone I’ve been listening to of late, and he puts on a hi-energy, percussive one-man show. Trading guitar and banjo, he has good original songs and while maybe not having the repertoire to hold an audience for two hours, he is well worth checking out live. He’d be great at eg The Acoustic Festival in May and I’ve put his name forward to the organiser.

So to the headliners. When I first heard them I was a bit unsure about the vocals, but then again I was in 1970 when I first heard The Flying Burrito Brothers! I’ve never been a fan of falsetto voices (and that includes Mssrs Stipe and Jagger), but it totally works for The Low Anthem on stage. They started out with the title track from ‘Smart Flesh’ and ‘Hey all you Hippies’, ‘Matter of Time’ and ‘Apothecary Love’ were also given an airing. The set list seemed to pretty much feature the songs they have been touring all year, with extracts from their previous ‘Charlie Darwin’ cd providing some haunting falsetto performances.

And may I take the opportunity to thank the pondlife who were stood near us, gabbing near the merch stand. Obviously so arrogant that they thought everybody had paid to listen to them and not the people on the stage. In the interests of health and safety (theirs, that is) we moved down to the front for what was a much better spot. Thanks, Mr Richard Head and entourage!

They finished with an ethereal version of Laughing Lenny’s ‘Bird on a Wire’, and Lady A had definitely been won over by the end. I’m not going to go into their short but eventful history, but the much-maligned Wikipedia is actually a good place to start. Their musicianship is phenomenal and wonderfully obscure, almost. And for those of you who are amazed at Jimmy Page playing a guitar with a violin bow, this lot play a metal saw with one!  Finally, (and I hate mobile phones), do NOT forget your mobile phone! I will say no more on the matter.

It is only a ‘matter of time’ (sorry for the pun) before world domination is theirs . They are definitely one to see AND hear simultaneously, but it will be a while before we get another chance.


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