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The Low Anthem Brings Old-Sounding, New Songs to The Bowery

April 15th, 2010

The Low Anthem – The Bowery ballroom – April 14, 2010

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Last night the tremendously talented Providence, R.I., band the Low Anthem played a terrific show at The Bowery Ballroom. The hairy, hat-wearing foursome (well, the three guys)—frontman Ben Knox Miller, Jocie Adams, Jeff Prystowsky and Mat Davidson—switched and traded instruments, with skins, reeds, strings (acoustic, electric and upright), plus a pump organ, crotales and even a God damn saw, all night long. Playing music that seems straight out of The Basement Tapes—Davidson plays the guitar like Robbie Robertson, jangly elbows and bending at the waist included—the band made its way through quiet, beautiful songs, like the set’s opener, “Ticket Taker,” and “To Ohio” (from their most recent release, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin), and rambling, rousing tunes, like the full-on electric, rollicking cover of “Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women” and the show-closing “The Horizon Is a Beltway.”

Miller, whose voice effortlessly shifts from light and ethereal, like on “Ticket Taker” and “Charlie Darwin,” to something reminiscent of Tom Waits’ growl, as on “Home I’ll Never Be” (written by Waits) and “The Horizon Is a Beltway,” said the group has several new songs that will come out on a new album in September. They played a few of the new tracks, including one about love in an apothecary with the line “She shot me with whiskey and chased me with gin.”

Highlights included a stellar cover of “Evangeline,” with the band circled around a microphone, doing a four-part harmony to the accompaniment of Miller on acoustic guitar and Davidson on the fiddle, and the haunting dirge “This God Damn House.” Miller asked those in the crowd to take out their cell phones “and call whoever you go to concerts with and put both phones on speaker,” which resulted in a pretty cool effect of the song being amplified throughout the venue. This music is different than the majority of what you hear today, and you shouldn’t miss the Low Anthem the next time they come to town. —R. Zizmor