On a day off from their tour supporting Emmylou Harris, The Low Anthem popped by a nondescript building in Pittsfield, Mass. to play an off-the-record show for about 115 people. My review is up on jambands.com
I profiled the band (re-live the memories here) when they played Pittsfield’s Mission Bar and Tapas in early 2009. They were already arguably too big for the venue in terms of fan interest and stature, and inarguably too big in terms of their actual gear—they couldn’t fit their vintage pump-organ through the doors so they had to do without. A year-and-a-half later, they’ve had their first national headlining tour, played the main stage of the Newport Folk Festival, and added a new member. So Mission was definitely out this time around—thus the unconventional venue. (In between these gigs they also played the first Word X Word Festival, performing in a lineup including poet Taylor Mali at Barrington Stage Company’s Stage 2 amid the set for the hit show Freud’s Last Session.)
"The Low Anthem doesn’t present itself as ambassador from another age with the literal-minded verisimilitude of, for instance, The Band—but it has a way of transporting the listener to a place that is neither here nor there, neither now nor then. Rotating among instruments that looked like they might have been played at Lincoln’s funeral, the four musicians captivatingly channeled the sense of sepia-toned-yet-Millennial hope and desperation that is so well voiced on excellent 2008 album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin..
The result was a fully enveloping sound, acoustic yet somehow cosmic, the sort of stuff Sun Ra might have been into if his father was Hobart Smith and he grew up in Appalachia.”
Photos by Bill Wright