April 22, 2010

Rock Over Boston | The Low Anthem | 4.20.10

[The Low Anthem and David Wax Museum at the Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 4/20/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

Still riding the cresting wave of well-deserved acclaim for Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, the album they self-released in 2008 and later re-released on Nonesuch in 2009 (and this humble blogger's favorite album on last year), The Low Anthem returned to Boston's Paradise Tuesday night as headliners after supporting Blind Pilot at the same venue just a few months ago.

Spreading out on the Paradise's stage, Low Anthem's junk shop goldmine of instruments traditional and odd painted a unique picture warm and familiar enough to feel classic, but evolved enough to feel like they've found a new way into your soul. Their amazing field organ, harmonium, singing saw, and Jocie Adams' clarinet and ghostly bowed crotales over Ben Knox Miller's gently plucked acoustic guitar and Jeff Prystowsky's stand-up bass are all arranged with wise economy.

They're not simply milking Charlie Darwin on this tour, either. There's a new album apparently planned for fall release, and the band previewed several of these beauties as well, most notably the handful that had the band huddling around an old-time single mic setup at the front of the stage that emphasized their easy harmonies. After laying this meditative groundwork, the moments where the band cuts loose, like on their amped up cover of Tom Waits' Jack Kerouac cover, "Home I'll Never Be," were welcome and elating relief, with Adams revealing herself a belter.

Low Anthem draw you in with whispers and connect with quiet intensity in that rare way that lulls rock clubs. All that shattered the rapt silence was a couple of particularly prolific photographers with sharp elbows and the loudest imaginable shutters, who took what sounded like 8000 shots over the course of the 90 minute set (really? Still taking shots by the dozen during the encore?). But even this wasn't enough to break The Low Anthem's deep spell.

-Michael Piantigini

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