close your eyes
[music, concerts]

Tom Liwa and Low concert

December, 4th, Offenbach, Robert Johnson

The opener Tom Liwa from Duisburg sat with his guitar on a chair with legs crossed and seemed very detached from the public when singing his dreamy intimate songs. It was almost like if he sang them to himself. He played mainly acoustic and some electric guitar. His songs are about everyday life and the lyrics are in simple German. But they somehow speak to me about the mystery of normal unspectacular life. The special thing about Liwa is his voice. It is very soft and mellow and sounds very natural. Though he hardly ever rose his voice it was rather expressive as he sang with different phrasings and accentuations. The sound was quite good for one man and a guitar though the bigger part of the audience preferred to stand behind the scene and talk. In one song he made me think of a fortyish Nick Drake. Often I didn't listen to the words and was distracted in a good way. I started to think about totally different things. The music was inspiring. At the end he introduced Low as the best band of the world which I found really weird as it was so over the top.

Low started with the phantastic song In the Drugs which was probably the best of the set. The audience was totally mute and listened to this in awe. The band created a spiritual atmosphere from the beginning on with their unique sound stretching the notes to eternities. Most of the evening they played songs from the new album Trust which I didn't know before. Mimi's voice impressed me a lot the whole evening. Sometimes it was sounding like early Joni Mitchell without the very high bits where Joni doesn't hit the right notes. Very clear and often modulating, changing. Alan often sang in a kind of falsetto and he even joked about it by making his mike responsible for him not sounding very masculine. The best songs were the ones where both of them sang. Usually he sang a line first and then she repeated it. Two other phantastic songs were Amazing Grace and Sunflower. Before playing a weird Pink Floyd cover (Fearless from Meddle) I had never heard before Alan joked by asking us if we knew Pink Floyd. Some people in the audience including me had to laugh and then he described them as this young, hip band from NYC. They were full of that kind of absurd dry humour all evening long. Alan alluded to the fact that the Robert Johnson usually is a dance club and wondered why the audience didn't dance. Pointing to the enlarged photos hanging on the walls he said that the people on those photos were having fun. And asked why we seemed so sad and said as well that the band is very happy and not sad at all. We didn't dance as their music obviously isn't dance music at all. Later the bassist said something about feeling sorry as they didn't bring any junk if I understood him well. Nobody laughed including me.

They are very professional performers. Extremely relaxed and sure of themselves. I understood at the concert that actually only playing a note every ten seconds or so is extremely difficult considering that if you hit the wrong note it will immediately show.

I found some a cappella songs sung by Mimi and another one sung by Alan slightly annoying. Alan announced the La La La Song as easier for us to sing-a-long than the previous songs (very funny). Of course no-one in the audience sang (I hummed a little) and I think they were a little disappointed. Another song was quite traditional. Their roots must be somewhere there. They sound solemn in a way and the simple lyrics which are often about grace and things are pointing into the direction that Mimi and Alan are Mormons. Alan did most of the set with eyes closed.

They only gave one encore and seemed a little uninspired. They didn't do their amazing slow motion cover of Joy Division's Transmission and I was slightly disappointed in the end. They also did some loud songs, one was for Napalm Death (;-) who played in Frankfurt the same night. Distorted guitar and hard rocking bass. Mimi played the cymbals and drums mostly with the brushes.

After the show I asked Tom Liwa of whom I bought his latest double cd Two Originals... (one cd acoustic songwriter, the other punk) what his favourite album of Low was. He said Things We Lost in the Fire. It was at 20 euros which I found an exaggerated price for a concert sale.


Re: Tom Liwa and Low concert

I'm really glad you enjoyed the concert. The Low show I saw a couple months ago was definitely the best show of theirs I'd seen in a few years (I've seen them at least once every year since 1997). I'm surprised that Things We Lost in the Fire was 20 euros -- is it possible that they had to pay some sort of tax to bring the CDs into Europe? I suspect something like that may have happened, since normally CDs are $10 at their shows and Low really aren't sneaky/greedy types.

By the way, for what it's worth, I like the In the Fishtank EP much better than Fire, and it's cheaper too.

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Re: Re: Tom Liwa and Low concert

I think there is 21.6% % import turnover tax for US goods but usually CDs are around 15 euros here. At the moment I only buy CDs at shows and I never saw a CD of an American band for 20 euros. Whatever it was a very good show. Though they could have played one or two more encores.

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