It is the first of two sold out nights at the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, London, and the sense of excitement is controlled yet overbearing at the same time. Observing those who populate this terrific venue, you have people from all walks of life and of all ages. A stunning array of people who have in essence been positively inspired, connected, and emotionally touched by the sheer power and force of Slowdive‘s epic and haunting brand of music.
But first up to take the stage in support are experimental duo Deaf Center, who hail from Langesund, Norway. The duo are known for their lengthy and elevating soundscapes and sonic arts, and with only half an hour to translate their sound to the audience present, there is unfortunately only time for two songs. However that being said, their minimalistic yet captivating performance is welcomed with open arms to a curious yet intrigued crowd who have more than enough understanding and appreciation for what Deaf Center have to offer. An extremely suitable yet pleasant warm up for tonight’s main attraction.
But of course it is all about Slowdive tonight. Having only played a couple of UK based headline shows before tonight on this sold out residency in London, there are plenty of people here who have not yet had the pleasure of being able to witness Slowdive in the live environment (this writer included), and that is more than evident by looking around and seeing the sheer anticipation on everyone’s faces.
The lights dim, and the intro track of Brian Eno‘s ‘Deep Blue Day’ sets the tone before Slowdive walk on stage to the response of a warm yet delayed heroes welcome. It is only when the guitars are cranked up and the first notes to the song ‘Slowdive’ from their debut EP rings, that the the overwhelming nature of their sound truly becomes a reality. Gorgeous reverb soaked guitars provided by the brilliant Christian Savill and Neil Halstead, and hypnotically inducing vocals from Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead, are what make this particular song soar. Complete with stage production and screen projected patterns (which look unashamedly nostalgic and relatable to 90s fashion at times) along with atmospheric lighting, all add to an intimate experience, which is ironic seeming that it is a fairly large venue.
But it would be unfair to just limit Slowdive‘s sound to just this. Drummer Simon Scott is arguably one of the most overlooked drummers in alternative music, and whilst it could be said that the genre which Slowdive choose to manifest from could be deemed ‘lazy’, Scott’s rhythm work is far from that. In fact, he is one of the most diverse, energetic, and hard hitting drummers in indie and alternative music today – along with the raw and at times menacing bass tones that Nick Chaplin compliments with the rhythm section, it is a sheer force to be reckoned with – particularly on tracks such as ‘Souvlaki Space Station’ and the epic ‘Albatross’.
Tonight’s set is nothing short of what could be deemed as ‘near perfect’ in terms of song choice and set structure. Such songs like ‘Crazy For You’, ‘When The Sun Hits’, ‘Alison’, and the Syd Barrett cover of ‘Golden Hair’ are met with rapturous receptions. But it is when Slowdive come back on to finish off with two final songs – ‘Albatross’, and the majestic ’40 Days’, that they really hit home with the audience, some of which are visibly in tears of joy and happiness, losing themselves in to the medium of dance and lust in equal measure!
From the reunion announcement to their first show back at the Primavera Sounds Festival in Barcelona, it is safe to say that the sense of adoration, joy, and warmth that has been received since Slowdive‘s reunion in 2014, has been nothing short of magnificent would be an understatement. And tonight just elevated that magnificence into celestial grounds. They truly proved with ease and without a doubt, just why they are as much of a relevant force to be reckoned with in today’s musical climate, and are here to prove that they are not just another nostalgic product from elder days of glory.
This evening in London was truly one of the most beautiful, enigmatic (if at times reserved), yet hypnotic performances of 2014. Slowdive are here to stay, and with news of a new album coming out on 2015, the excitement factor is about to be yet again taken to yet another height once more! Absolutely stunning.