Manchester’s Central Methodist Hall is a most appropriate setting for Low, for this is a call to the devoted. The hall is an intimate, low-key and tee-total venue due to its Methodist origins, so with a pure emphasis on the band there is a sense of divine captivation among the expectant audience.

With an uncomplicated arrangement − Alan Sparhawk on guitar, Mimi Parker on drums and Steve Garrington on bass – live, Low offers few surprises. Their repertoire is melancholic, introspective and quietly beautiful; old favourites such as ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Pissing’ are played poignantly but there is little deviation from the studio script. ‘Monkey’ is a darker, heavier number that resonates more powerfully within the muffled hall, and it is songs such as this and ‘Murderer’ that pack a deeper punch when the band get their sleepy engines fired up.

The set is both a visual and an oral performance; swaying forests, lonely highways and sentimental images of American suburbia roll ceaselessly on a projector in the background, creating an ocular journey through Low’s own self-discovery.  The easy union between Sparhawk’s disconsolate lament and Parker’s ethereal vocals form a moving soundtrack that is pensive and wistful; their voices intertwine beautifully on gentle numbers such as ‘Words’, while newer songs such as ‘Especially Me’ and ‘Holy Ghost’ allow Parker to take centre stage most convincingly. With Garrington adding some spice on bass, there is a feeling that the trio are true believers of their own rhetoric.

While lovely, this was a gig with two faces. For the loyal devoted, it will have been special, enchanting, mesmerising and many such adjectives; for those not quite hypnotized, Low’s performance offered little more than an album repertoire turned up loud. Swap the distracting visuals for some jazzed up improvisation, and this would be a band worth seeing in its own right rather than being a soundtrack to the whimsical.

Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.