Those of us who managed to get tickets to see tonight’s show were very lucky. Aside from appearing as a part of the secret lineup at Sonic Cathedral’s 10th anniversary concert the day before, this was the first Slowdive show in twenty years, and in their absence, the shoegazers have become legends. Tickets sold out in an unprecedented 90 seconds, with the scramble for tickets meaning fans were paying anything upto £200 to get their hands on a chance to see their reunion. And that goes to show just how much the Slowdive reunion means, they’re a band who weren’t quite appreciated during their first stint,but in the intervening years time has found itself on their side, a new generation has realized just how brilliant and influential they were. All this means that their show today was a very special concert.
Younghusband had the honour of providing support, and they played a very enjoyable set of shoegaze influenced indie rock. During their short set, they played some great songs, with normal rock song structures, but with shimmering layers of guitar over the top. They don’t really do anything new, but their notable Slowdive influence in the guitar sound is a testament to how important the headliners really were as a band, and serves as another reminder, if we even needed one, as to why we were all so pleased to see Slowdive come back.
By the time Slowdive took to the stage the venue was completely packed with excited fans, the sold out venue stifling with the heat of the sunny day. A false start into the eponymous Slowdive prompts singer/guitarist Rachel Goswell to joke “After all that buildup…” but as soon as they do kick into the song, their sound is perfect. Much louder than the warm up show the day before at the Hoxton Square bar, their wall of sound completely fills the venue, so thick and laden with effects the sound is almost tangible. The loud volume means the use of dynamics throughout the show was particularly impressive, the quieter mellower sections swirling round beautifully, while the volume swells being really loud, giving the wall of sound a triumphant, intense quality. With the vocals being louder in the mix than at the warm up show, rather than just a barely audible floating over the top, they played more of a role in completing the band’s beautiful atmosphere, Rachel and Neil both singing beautifully.Perhaps with the heightened excitement of a large crowd they put on an even better, tighter performance than the night before, the only major setback being a problem with Nick Chaplin’s pedal board at one point prompting Rachel to joke “even the bassist has pedals”. Quickly sorted, the bands set is otherwise flawless, and you wouldn’t know they had been away for such a long time, with the meticulously crafted layers of noise coming off the stage, intense but beautiful. Most of the setlist came from Souvlaki, but the rest of their discography was also represented, with Catch the Breeze coming from Just for a Day, and Crazy for You and Blue Skied an’ Clear from Pygmalion, the latter two not played before by the band, other than at the warm up show the day previously. Highlights of the set were When the Sun Hits which had the crowd going mad, jumping up and down, a moshpit and even out of place crowd surfing showing just how excited the audience were about one of their best songs, while the cover of Syd Barrett’s Golden Hair was perhaps the band’s best performance of the night. Going far beyond the length of their recording, they began with swirling, mellow guitars with Rachel’s ethereal vocals, before slowly but surely building up to one of the most beautiful, loud and intense walls of sound of the night, it was simply breathtaking.
Coming back for an encore, they played their first ever performance of Rutti, a beautiful song filled with post-rock melancholy and melody, one of my favourite Slowdive songs, long, moody and a pleasure to see them perfom, before ending with their most popular song Alison, with a simply fantastic performance, those swirling guitar melodies filling the packed venue beautifully. Perhaps a sign that this reunion is not just a one off, as they left the stage Rachel said “we hope to see you again soon”. And after such a masterful set, we hope so too.
Crowd footage of Golden Hair
Catch the Breeze
Crazy for You
Blue Skied an’ Clear
Souvlaki Space Station
When the Sun Hits
Golden Hair (Syd Barrett cover)