Virtuosi on the iPhone and Singing Saw – The Low Anthem at Brighton Ballroom


The Brighton Ball room – a decadent, intimate setting for The Low Anthem gig

Oh my God!  The Low Anthem performance at Brighton Ballroom on Monday inspired a reverential hush in the audience with their hauntingly beautiful lyrics and harmonies as they played Oh My God Charlie Darwin, and Ticket Taker, amongst other songs from their recent album Smart Flesh, and the previous album. ‘The band consists of Ben Knox Miller (vocals, guitar), Jeff Prystowsky (drums, vocals, double bass), Jocie Adams (vocals, clarinet, organ), Mike Irwin (bass, trumpet, guitar) and Tyler Osborne (guitar, bass).” (source: Wikipedia)

I first saw The Low Anthem in Brighton at Komedia, then again on the main stage at The Green Man Festival in Wales (see Michael Kiwanuka post back in February). Amazing experience both times. the louder more raucous tracks worked better at Komedia and Green Man, but The Brighton Ballroom – a small and decadent setting for a gig had a more intimate mood and really worked really well on the quieter tracks with the three part harmonies around the vintage microphone. The strange cacophony of the louder tracks has this weird way of sounding out of control then gradually coming together into some glorious mix – not sure the acoustics of The Brighton Ballroom could quite hold it though!

One of the amazing things about this band is their virtuoso performance on a large selection of instruments which they switch between at ease – drums, double bass, clarinet, trumpet, guitars, the singing saw (also known as a ‘musical saw’ I think this was also played in the film “Delicatessan?”), and, on one song, two iPhones held together. Yes, along with the singing saw the iPhones make an ethereal sound – so mesmerizing. I managed to get a sort of photo of this – difficult to make out but the best I could do from where I was with all the heads in the way.You can just make out Ben using the two iPhones at the front. This always creates absolute fascination in every audience I’ve been in as they crane their necks to see where that unearthly noise is coming from. I think it is just the two iPhones held close with the feedback from the signals making strange noises. Must try it if I can get hold of two iPhones!

I love the way this band really enjoy playing together, they were having so much fun (especially the drummer who spent most of the evening grinning madly). They look at each other as they play – feeding off each others performance, and it’s a bit like having an intimate invite to a private jamming session. It was Jocie’s birthday (she only looks about 12 as one of the audience said) so they sang Happy Birthday to her. Ben also talked about a recent mini bus customs query where they were asked if the vehicle was “for commercial or personal use”. Jeff answered with” Have you heard the music?”.

Commercial it isn’t, but it’s certainly beautiful.

I conclude with some photos of the band’s set-up taken after the gig – including the singing saw and paint cans? I love the pedals and Altoids, and the ‘Ooosh’ guitar…

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