LIVE: Low / Divide And Dissolve - The Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 25/04/2022

LIVE: Low / Divide And Dissolve – The Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 25/04/2022

There’s a fair bit of anticipation for tonight’s gig. Low have played the Queens Hall a number of  times over the previous two decades, and they’re touring an album – their thirteenth – which has seen them get fantastic reviews and reach no.23 in the UK album charts, their highest position yet. This is all the more impressive considering Hey What and its immediate predecessor, Double Negative, use a more distorted sound on record, one which seems to be slightly, if not completely at odds with the days when they were described as being ‘sadcore’ or ‘slowcore.’

Tonight’s opening act are the Melbourne doom metal with jazz overtones duo Divide And Dissolve. An interesting proposition on paper, the act have reached a bigger audience with their third album, 2020’s Gas Lit. No one expects a doom metal act to be quiet (to be fair, it might seem odd a doom metal act supporting Low) but Tsalagi saxophonist and guitarist Takiaya Reed, and Maori percussionist Sylvie Nehill blow away the notions of a genre that’s usually a) male and b) either from Florida or Scandinavia. They make a sound that is loud, powerful and uncompromising. Having been fortunate to be very close to the stage, it’s a shame that the sheer volume detracts from what is an interesting concept. It’s not just my ears that are ringing, but my chest as well, as the waves of feedback start to make the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Sunn o))) seem positively wimpy by comparison. Inbetween songs Takiaya talks to the audience rather shyly. They have spoken about their wish for their music to be decolonising, decentralising, disestablishing, and destroying white supremacy, which this writer cannot disagree with.

For much of their career, Low have been a trio, with the duo of singer, guitarist and husband Alan Sparhawk, and singer, drummer and wife Mimi Parker at its core. As of this album they are now a duo, but they are joined on stage by bassist Liz Draper. The first part of this excellent gig features almost the entirety of the new album, starting off with ‘White Horses‘ and making its way effortlessly into ‘I Can Wait.’ Just as the album does, it might be pointed out, but live this feels less harsh. Low’s music may often be sad and desolate, but it’s never cold or holding its listeners at arm’s length. The delicate harmonies of this husband and wife team are an essential part of the sound, whatever the spirit of the record may be.

It was obvious when ‘Days Like These‘ was released ahead of the album that this was another strong Low album, and to hear this and other album tracks like ‘All Night‘ show how well they have transferred this from a record to a live show. They finish this part of the show with an epic version of ‘The Price You Pay (It Must Be Wearing Off)’ which they dedicate to their support act.

The second part of the set is where they play ‘older stuff.’ Still, it must be noted that there’s not many bands where their profile and sound is continuing to evolve after nearly thirty years (who really goes to a Stones’ show wanting to hear a majority of stuff from say post-Exile?) But Low have a fantastic back catalogue to draw upon. So while we may not get ‘California‘ or ‘Dinosaur Act‘ for example, we do get treated to the likes of ‘Sunflower’ from Things We Lost In The Fire, ‘In The Drugs‘ from Trust and several from The Great Destroyer including ‘Monkey’ (later covered by Robert Plant), ‘Pissing‘ and ‘Silver Rider.’

There’s really little to find fault with in Low, and we leave, most definitely, on a high.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.