Slowdive at The Roundhouse, London, review: Band are enjoying the last laugh

For every moment of mediative beauty, there are others of heart-leaping euphoria

Shaun Curran
Monday 23 October 2017 12:08
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Slowdive
Slowdive

Over two decades since being ran out of town by an unforgiving music press, reformed 90’s shoegazers Slowdive are bigger than ever.

How did it happen? When the Reading five piece split in 1995 after being dropped by Creation records at the height of Britpop, it was with the shoegaze scene on its knees and mockery ringing in their ears: Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers once claimed he “hated Slowdive more than Hitler”.

The passage of time has been much kinder. Slowdive’s signature sound - opulent, distorted dreamscapes - has seasoned so well it is now a la mode with a host of contemporary bands from DIIV to Alvvays. The sumptuous “Alison”, played tonight as the set reaches its transcendent peak, is a forerunner for the type of song that fills up the BBC 6Music playlist.

Slowdive could have been forgiven for milking the redemptive victory lap of their successful 2014 comeback tour, but tonight they play in support of a brand new self-titled album, their fourth. It is one of the most convincing arguments for returning bands to offer more than tired nostalgia you’ll ever hear, the most satisfying distillation of their vision yet.

As with the album, “Slomo” opens tonight’s show in majestic fashion, its shimmering guitar and woozy melody beginning an evening of blissed-out ecstasy, where lush layers of sound ebb and flow as guitarist Neil Halstead drenches Rachel Goswell’s honey-sweet vocal melodies in deep reverb.

For every moment of meditative beauty (“Blue Skied an’ Clear”) there are others of heart leaping euphoria: the chorus to “When the Sun Hits” visibly takes the crowd aback. With its driving riff, new track “Star Roving” is Slowdive’s catchiest number: it might even be their best.

They rework Syd Barret’s “Golden Hair” to close, reaching Sigur Ros levels of sonic crescendo to leave the Roundhouse in a state of reverie. Far from being a joke, Slowdive are enjoying the last laugh.

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