When I first listened to Slowdive a year or so ago, I tried to describe their sound to my much more musically competent boyfriend. Little did I know he was already a fan and so my clumsy attempt of ‘kinda like, uh, dreamy lo-fi rock’ was swiftly corrected to ‘pioneers of Shoegaze’.
Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth all have this Shoegaze quality. The term originates from their live performances when the musicians would stare at the floor as they played, swaying back and forth, tantalising the audience with those 90’s mops.
The shoegaze trailblazors returned to Leeds on Wednesday showcasing their eponymous new release. The first in 22 years! But of course, no Slowdive show is complete without a couple of the classics thrown in: ‘Alison’, ‘Souvlaki’, ‘Space Station’ and ‘Machine Gun’ were teaming with powerful nostalgia.
The performance was faultless. Slowdive’s talent if anything has aged like a fine, fine wine. I even thought the raspiness to Neil Halstead’s matured voice added something special in newer tracks like ‘Sugar for the Pill’ and ‘Slomo’. Leeds Town Hall became a chamber of hypnotic echoes dedicated to the quintet.
Slowdive’s sound of ethereal harmonies and warped guitars filled the space so completely it was as if it the music itself was a liquid, and we were all swimming. The lighting rippled over the balconies and back walls like a swimming pool in the summertime.