The Low Anthem
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 30 Aug
Will there be many better live moments this year than Ben Knox Miller delicately crooning his way through opener ‘To the Ghosts Who Write History Books’ as a theremin gently howls in the background? Or his gruff, determined exhortation to ‘Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around’ later in the set, a ragged hymn to not letting the bastards grind you down? Or his pin-sharp cover of The Band’s ‘Evangeline’, recreating a little of The Last Waltz’ atmosphere before us in the Queen’s Hall. The Rhode Island quartet are a special band, and this was a very special show.
Playing for just a little over an hour to accommodate supports Avi Buffalo and Mountain Man (the latter group would reappear for some harmonising with Miller and co later in the show), The Low Anthem condense the spirit of contemporary Americana into one heart-bruising set, first with a series of delicate and fragile acoustic tracks and then with some louder but not necessarily more upbeat full band numbers. ‘Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wild Wild Women’, a Jim Croce cover, struck a suitably bittersweet note, while an encore of ‘Hole in the Bucket’ seemed designed to prove that this band can sing anything and bring a tear to the eye.