LOW : Live at Teatro Antoniano, Bologna

I must be getting old. When Alan Sparhawk said during this show: “I’m sorry that you have to sit”, my immediate thought was: ‘there’s really no need to apologize’.

A concert in a comfortable theatre venue strikes me as a sensible choice, particularly for a band like Low. Let’s face it, their intense, reflective brand of rock is hardly party music! To dance to their songs, you’d need a lot of imagination.

Sparhawk’s comment is also a little odd since it seems that he and wife MImi Parker go out of their way to ensure their music is heard in such settings. The last time I saw them in 2002 at a small club (also in Bologna), seating was provided and, presumably out of respect for the Mormon couple’s teetotalism, the bar was closed.

This year marks the culmination of two decades of Low’s existence. Sparhawk and Parker are obviously a constant, and they are currently part of a trio with Steve Garrington on bass and keyboard.

They’ve had their ups and downs during these 20 years and ,one time, seemed about to call it a day as Sparhawk struggled through a period of depression.

Not only have they survived, they now seem better than ever;  the focus and precision of the tracks from their excellent new album, The Invisible Way, are even more powerful when played live.

Of the older songs, I rated Especially Me as the highlight of the set list and the sustained applause that greeted it shows that I wasn’t alone in this opinion. In fact, all the songs with Mimi Parker on lead vocals were fantastic. She manages to effortlessly bring out the plaintive, soul-searching quality of the songs and makes a prefect contrast to hubby’s harsher vocals.

The ‘slowcore’ label, that is eternally linked to the band,  still makes sense but these days they also rock out quite a bit and Sparhawk’s guitar solos reminded me a little of Neil Young’s inspired playing with Crazy Horse.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it dance music but I was frequently moved to nod my head and tap my feet from the comfort of my theatre seat.

In short, a highly civilised night of entertainment was had by all.