Live Review Sebadoh, Electric Ballroom, London

Lou Barlow still resembles the poster boy for disaffected indie rock.

“Welcome to the 1990s!” announces Lou Barlow. Twenty years ago, Sebadoh would never have had the pulling power to pack Camden’s Electric Ballroom but, in a year that sees the re-release of Nirvana’s 'Nevermind', it’s fitting to see messrs. Barlow and Lowenstein encounter some genuine acclaim and adulation, albeit sometime after their recording heyday.

Lou Barlow still resembles the poster boy for disaffected indie rock, all casual scruffiness, extended tuning breaks and minimal stage banter – “we’re gonna play until we’re told to stop” is the band’s modus operandi and it works a treat. With songwriting duties split between Barlow and co-frontman Jason Lowenstein, both trade instruments throughout without ever missing a beat. In fact, it is quite a muscular sounding set throughout; the considerable distortion on the bass ensures that it vies with the guitar for sonic intensity and both songwriters operate as comfortable frontmen; original third member Eric Gaffney’s replacement for the evening is Bob D’Amico of the Fiery Furnaces.

Drawing heavily on material from recent re-releases 'Harmacy' and 'Bakesale', it is Lowenstein’s exhilarating, almost hardcore songs – 'Love to Fight' a particular highlight – which are the more invigorating. This isn’t a slight on Barlow, his more folk-infused, almost charming offerings are significantly less immediate but more intricate and sincere. And therein lies the beauty of Sebadoh – the band manages to straddle the line between ramshackle punk rock and idiosyncratic songwriting craft. They may be veterans at this stage but this hasn’t dimmed Sebadoh’s status as lo-fi romantics of the highest calibre.