by David Gimpel
If you were to tell the 17-year-old me that one day I would be seeing one of my favorite bands, Slowdive, play live I would probably laugh at you. Slowdive, along with other bands from the late 80s/early 90s like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and Lush, were pioneers of the genre of Shoegaze. They created a sound that has now influenced many new bands like M83, Wolf Alice, and Sigur Ros. Slowdive are the essential Shoegaze band, unfortunately they broke up in 1995 after three albums and a handful of EPs. They reunited in 2014 to celebrate 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking sophomore album Souvlaki, and proceeded to tour off and on with a ton of praise and fanfare.
Early this year, the band announced a new self-titled album Slowdive. They showed that even 22 years after their last recording together, they are still the best at their craft. This new material rivals their classics, something that’s unheard of for newly reunited bands. Their performance in Detroit proved they can still create the mood and atmosphere their audience desires.
Slowdive walked on stage into a sea of fog and lights, all crafted the mood of the evening perfectly. The crowd screamed as they walked on stage, however, once the first note of “Slomo” played, the crowd went mute in order to take it all in. This song had a beautiful extended instrumental introduction before vocalists Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell’s intertwined together perfectly. The wall of sound everyone in attendance wanted came soon after with the band’s earliest songs “Slowdive” and “Catch The Breeze.”
The set had many highlights, the crowd was blown away with pulsating lights and ear crushing guitars to “Souvlaki Space Station” that created a unique feeling throughout the room. Songs from the ambient record Pygmalion were never given a proper tour, so “Blue Skied an’ Clear” and “Crazy For You” were given a new life and sounded very vibrant.
The new songs shimmer perfectly amongst the classics, like “Sugar For The Pill” has a modern dream pop feel. Then we heard the guitar-riff freak out “Star Roving,” which is Slowdive’s fastest and one of the more rock oriented songs in their catalog. All songs that will stand the test of time and add to the band’s legacy.
My biggest observance in the crowd was the variety of ages. Before the show started, I was talking to a man and his 15-year old son. The father was wearing a Pixies t-shirt, which lead me to believe he was bringing his son to the show. Turns out, his son is the one that turned him on to Slowdive. It speaks volumes to the influence the band has right now, hopefully it inspires them to make some unique music of their own.
The band closed the main set with a cover of Syd Barret’s “Golden Hair”. Rachel Goswell’s exquisite vocal performance filled the room before walking off stage and letting the band take over with roaring guitars over a very pretty melody. I know this phrase gets used all the time but my mind was literally blown!
Crazy For You
Soulvlaki Space Station
Catch The Breeze
Don’t Know Why
Blue Skied an’ Clear
When The Sun Hits
No Longer Making Time