Low launches world tour after hometown concert|
New CD at No. 3 on college music charts
Low left home Thursday on a three-month world tour with a new CD that's near the top of college music charts.
On Wednesday night, Duluth's slow, quiet band treated more than 200 hometown fans to a evening of new songs, old favorites and a little lighthearted banter.
It's redundant to describe the concert in Sacred Heart Music Center as a mellow, nearly introspective music event -- that describes nearly all of Low's work.
The concert in the former church with its near-perfect acoustics was more than a celebration of refined pop music minimalism. The 12-song set and two-song encore came alive with candles and lights casting giant, haunting shadows of the trio on the walls behind the old altar.
And the congregation, er, fans, sat in the pews, quiet as church mice -- the perfect venue to catch every nuance created by guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk, drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker and bassist Zak Sally.
Low's tour includes New York, Boston and more than three dozen cities in Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, England, Ireland and Japan.
"We're even staying popular in London, and their (attention span for music groups) is usually pretty short," Sparhawk said. "What they like one day, usually it's something different the next."
Last week, Low's fifth and latest CD, "Things We Lost in the Fire" skyrocketed from its debut at 186 on the CMJ college radio music charts to No. 3.
"We've made the top 20 before, but we've never been this high," said Sparhawk, who expects the CD to be reviewed in Rolling Stone and Spin magazines in coming weeks. "It really is incredible."
The new disc, which was released nationwide Monday, follows last year's "Christmas" CD, which brought Low a moment of fame when Gap stores used its version of "Little Drummer Boy" in a holiday television commercial.
Sparhawk said the band appears "on the cusp" of breaking into a higher level of rock fame. It's now playing 600- to 800-seat venues.
"We've been around for eight years, so it's not like we're just being discovered. But I think more people are bringing friends (to concerts) and, when they hear us, they're saying, 'Hey, these guys don't just play quiet and slow, they write pretty good songs, too,' " Sparhawk said.
Much of Wednesday's play list was devoted to songs from "Things We Lost in the Fire." While the sounds loom larger on the CD (thanks to some guest players and quality recording), the live versions were just as deep.
Low has always been about making every word, every beat, even every pause seem somehow important to the music's message. And their newest songs do this well, if not better.
The trio started with "Sunflower" off the new disc and got rocking a bit with "Dinosaur Act," their third song of the night.
Parker's voice shined in a nearly a cappella version of "Laser Beam." Sparhawk declared the song "Don't Carry It All" as the group's "campfire song," with a rare upbeat tempo.
"We've been playing most of the happy songs tonight," Sparhawk joked.
Low finished the set with "Closer" and a stained-glass-window vibrating version of "In Metal." The trio took a few requests and finished the night with "Soon" from 1999's "Secret Nature" (sic) CD.
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