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Concert Tue Jul 05 2011

Review: Low, Glen Hansard @ Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays, 6/27

[This review comes to us from regular GB photographer, Rory O'Connor.]

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Downtown Sound crowd, June 27th (photos by Rory O'Connor)

It was an unlikely pairing at the June 27th installment of Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays at Pritzker Pavilion; one which may have taken more than a few people by surprise depending on their reasons for attending the evening's event.

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Glen Hansard (photos by Rory O'Connor)

Glen Hansard got things started off, as he walked out on stage armed with only a worn out acoustic guitar and a bit of Irish wit. Hansard, perhaps best known as lead singer of the band the Frames and half of the Swell Season, proceeded to treat the crowd to a spirited 45+ minute set, which included a rousing rendition of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." Shortly before delving into the cover, Hansard delivered a quick tale about learning his trade by performing on the street and one could see how his humble start had paid off. Hansard appeared completely at ease with his guitar on the pavilion's spacious stage, working the crowd with a bit of humor between songs. His easy manner kept the performance light, even among some of the sadder numbers. Hansard also delivered on what a large contingent were presumably there to hear, when he performed his most well known song "Falling Slowly," for which he won an Academy Award.

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Low (photos by Rory O'Connor)

Shortly after, headliners Low took the stage, fronted by husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk (vocals/guitar) and Mimi Parker (vocals/percussion) and backed by Steve Garrington on bass and Eric Pollard on keyboard. It proves a particularly difficult task to describe the music of Low for anyone not already familiar, but the one word which feels closest in doing so is intense. Opening the show with "Nothing but Heart," from the band's most recent release C'mon, they played a set which relied heavy on newer material. However, the evening's highlights were provided when the band dipped into some older material. The haunting vocal harmonies between husband and wife were on full display during a rendition of "Silver Rider."

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Low's Mimi Parker (photos by Rory O'Connor)

Part of the beauty of Low's music is its ability to appear painfully intimate while remaining largely ambiguous, a sentiment exemplified by the set's closer "Violent Past." As the band came out for their encore, Sparhawk dedicated the final song of the night to those who may be hearing them for the first time, just before striking the opening notes to "When I Go Deaf," from 2005's The Great Destroyer. Ultimately, his dedication could have been followed by anything because every song in the band's catalog is singularly and unmistakably Low. The band's music is not for everyone, as it carries a heavy weight, a seemingly constant struggle, which can prove difficult for the casual listener. But, for those who are able to connect with the band and their music, they are rewarded with an experience that may never be forgotten.

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Low's Alan Sparhawk (photos by Rory O'Connor)

-Rory O'Connor

 
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Kirstie / July 12, 2011 9:11 PM

Great photos as always and I love how you described Low here: "Part of the beauty of Low's music is its ability to appear painfully intimate while remaining largely ambiguous, a sentiment exemplified by the set's closer "Violent Past." I don't know as if I would have been able to put it into these exact words myself but they are rather apt. Well done, Rory!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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