Sonic Cathedral was out to celebrate itself after reaching their tenth anniversary as a record label. Throwing a party at the Hoxton Square bar and kitchen, they kept the lineup secret until the day, but with rumours flying around they managed to sell it out. On an afternoon filled with beautiful sunshine, they revealed the lineup to be Ride’s Mark Gardener, Ulrich Schnauss and, the reason it sold out, the first show by legendary shoegaze act Slowdive for twenty years. A warm up show for their gig the next day at the Village Underground that incredibly sold out in just 90 seconds, Sonic Cathedral really pulled it out of the bag with this one.
Despite their status as one of the early shoegazing bands, Ride are a band I’ve never really gotten into or enjoyed to any extent, so unfortunately I was unfamiliar with Mark Gardener’s setlist. Keeping it simple with just vocals and acoustic guitar, he played a very chilled out set that went with the sunny atmosphere of the day. Playing a cover of Ride’s Polar Bear, and Robin Guthrie’s Dice, it was a short, yet enjoyable set. Ulrich Schnauss was next, delivering an relaxed set, enhanced by the visuals on screen by Nat Urazmetova. With a soft sound, his brand of atmospheric dance music went excellently with the visuals, both combining to form a hypnotic, relaxed set.
Slowdive were the band everyone was here to see though, and even with it being the band’s first show in twenty years they were excellent, despite Neil Halstead’s claim upon coming onto the stage of “This is the warmup show, so it might be a bit shit”. Kicking straight off into the eponymous Slowdive, the band were great from start to finish, with their trademark effects laden guitar sound filling the room with a great atmosphere, while Rachel and Neil’s voices floated ethereally over the top adding that extra enchanting layer. The volume just that bit too quiet for the wall of sound effect to be quite as striking as it could be, though it’s no detriment to the band who’s hazy delay driven sound is simply beautiful at any volume, especially on Avalyn and Machine Gun where the guitars created beautiful swirls of noise, while the rhythm section of Simon Scott and Nick Chaplin really rounded off the bands sound, giving a sense of rhythm and energy to the band’s dreamy soundscapes. The band also played two songs from Pygmalion for the first time, Crazy for You and Blue Skied an’ Clear with a fantastic performance, the band had split up before touring after the album came out, and twenty years on the songs sound fantastic. The setlist was fantastic, with a mix of the more upbeat with When the Sun Hits and 40 days being particular highlights, and the mellower tracks Machine Gun and Avalyn before ending with the Syd Barrett cover Golden Hair, mellow, melancholy and brilliant. Coming back on for an encore of crowd favourite Alison it rounded off a fantastic set with one of their most energetic songs. With a small relaxed crowd watching them play such a good set, it was a fantastic, somewhat intimate performance, from one of the most misunderstood bands of their time. Their brilliant sound may not have been appreciated quite so much when they were around the first time, but the renewed interest in Slowdive is justly deserved – time has shown how great, and how influential they were. It’s good to have them back, especially for those of us who couldn’t catch them first time around.
Catch the Breeze
Crazy for you
Blue Skied an’ Clear
Souvlaki Space Station
When the Sun Hits
See crowd filmed footage of Catch the Breeze below.
Thanks to Sonic Cathedral for putting on a great night.