Burning Inner Light: Fergal Bunbury’s Tribute to Low

I first became aware of Low in 2000 when I heard Dinosaur Act. It was a bit late, I know, but I guess I was busy. I loved its stately, funereal tempo, the fuzzed up, almost glitchy, guitar, the extreme dynamics, the burning intensity and the soaring harmonies and I’ve listened to and loved them ever since.

Sometimes, with me, it’s an extra, random thing that makes me love a band. It could be a picture, some tiny detail in a recording or something I’ve heard about the artist.

With Low, it was a story I heard about when they were starting out, playing smaller venues, and if the crowd weren’t giving them their full attention they turned DOWN! Imagine. To a neanderthal guitar-thrasher like me this is REVOLUTIONARY. It never made me turn down but what a glorious and fuck-you idea.

Which reminded me of one of the reasons I love the Minutemen. Their double album masterpiece, Double Nickels on the Dime, was named as a reaction to a Sammy Hagar single called ‘I Can’t Drive 55’. It was the Minutemen saying: “Is that ALL you’ve got Sammy? That is your rebellion?” and the cover features D Boon driving a Volkswagen at exactly 55 miles per hour (Double Nickel) on Interstate 10 (the Dime) with a manic glint in his eye. We can drive at the speed limit but listen to this music! The interesting, cool person will not be wearing red leather trousers or playing a guitar cranked up to 11.

I read somewhere yesterday that someone had written to Low asking them to play ‘Murderer’ at a show he was attending. When they played it, he messaged them the next day saying he felt it was played for him and they replied that it was: “We read our requests”.

They also read minds.

I only saw Low twice. The first time was on the altar in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, lit by candles and a burning inner light. I had also hoped that they would play ‘Murderer’ and they did. The second time was at Vicar Street last April and for this one I hoped they would play ‘Sunflower’ and you know what? They did. Sweet Sweet Sweet Sweet Sunflowers. A beautiful evening, mostly showcasing HEY WHAT, their latest and now sadly last album. Probably their best.

Mimi Parker. RIP.

Thank You.

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