There are times in life where no matter how much you plan, things are destined to go wrong. Luckily for most of us this doesn’t happen in front of an audience. If you’re a band you have to be prepared for those times and make sure you’re ready to handle it. For Low Anthem, tonight was one of those nights.
The evening started brightly with ‘Head and the Heart’ performing and enjoyable set of bright indie-folk. Although no Mumford and Sons, or even Low Anthem, I liked the way three of the band were confident enough to take vocal lead giving their performance a variety beyond their material.
Low Anthem followed for what was a frustrating yet ultimately rewarding performance. There was much wrong with tonights performance. Whereas Head and the Heart were adequately lit, the Low Anthem played to the bare minimum of lighting. Some might claim this was ‘atmospheric’ but based on some of the comments from around me, others felt the lighting was too low. If we wanted to hear the performance we could grab a bootleg.
But despite this, the performance started well until the fourth or fifth song when suddenly there were serious sound problems with massive pops affecting the performance. It quickly became apparent that there was no quick solution so the sound engineer asked them to leave the stage for five minutes. This is where the band turned a problem into a memorable event. Instead of leaving the stage they decide to decamp to the midpoint of the auditorium and play acoustically.
In most venues this would be impossible. I’ve seen Mumford & Sons try this at the Hammersmith Apollo to an accompaniment of ‘sshh’s’ from the audience. Luckily tonight we weren’t in a big gig venue but the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, a venue design for acoustic performances and with an audience accustomed to listening to them. So unlike Mumford’s attempt, the audience showed the performers the respect their effort deserved. What followed was ten minutes of beautiful, simple acoustic performances with excellent vocal harmony. I think, like me, the audience were disappointed when the sound was fixed.
The only downside of the performance was that while we could barely see them on stage, we couldn’t see them at all because the lighting people didn’t think to raise the house’s lights until towards the end of the performance. But that shouldn’t detract from the way Low Anthem rescued what could have been a disastrous night.