Slowdive

support Blanck Mass
author MIN date 30/09/17 venue Koncerthuset, Studie 2, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s been more than twenty years since British shoegaze/dream-pop band Slowdive last played a headlining show in Denmark. Although the quintet performed at Roskilde Festival in both 2014 and 2017, Slowdive’s managed to sell out Koncerthuset’s Studie 2 a long time in advance, giving me the impression that tonight’s set has been long awaited by both old and new fans. With them tonight, Slowdive’s brought the British electro/noise act Blanck Mass, which honestly falls too far from our usual coverage, but I will say that what I caught of the show was a pretty engaging performance where pain-inducing, forward-thinking beats and gorgeous, melancholic atmosphere perfectly resembled the ups and downs of a schizophrenic night out on drugs.

Unfortunately, none of our skilled photographers were able to make it to the show tonight.

Slowdive

Riding on the wind from their excellent self-titled album from earlier this year – the band’s first original release since 1995 – Slowdive slowly lures the audience in with the hypnotizing album-opener, “Slomo”. As the lush background noise and the loud beat of the drums promise a luxurious sound tonight, premonitions of an excellent show become a realization. The dropping guitar notes kick in and furthers the impression, but as soon as the intertwined vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell begin, it becomes apparent that Goswell’s vocals are a bit too low in the mix compared to the rest of the setup. While Goswell, center-stage, is still audible, it’s a shame that you have to focus to really hear her words. As we go through the weightless, psychedelic soundscape provided by “Crazy for You” and the riff-heavy “Star Roving”, most people in attendance don’t seem to notice, but the nuisance is constantly there, teasing in the back.

But let’s not focus too much on the downside: Slowdive tonight presents a formidable effort nonetheless, where the musicianship is flawless and the melodies are to die for. The band’s – for their time – unparalleled way of creating sugar-sweet melodies torn apart by ravaging noise is marvelous, and on “Souvlaki Space Station”, Goswell’s voice finally takes the front-seat in the mix, making it even more audible than on the original recording. Once we reach “When the Sun Hits” and “No Longer Making Time”, the strangling sounds of shoegaze finally flourishes to its full extend, too, spellbinding the entire audience. Perfectly complementing the music is a broad white linen that covers the entire back of the stage upon which a projector displays various trippy and entrancing lightshows and colorful animations. The only thing detracting points from the overall score now is that the house lights on several occasions become too bright and lights up the entire audience for too long, excluding you from your own personal trippy trance now and then.

The main part of the set closes with a phenomenal hat trick of songs, where the quiet Halstead-fronted “Dagger” takes the cake for most memorable performance. “Alison” then re-introduces the swirling guitars, and before you know it, a magnificent cover of Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” completes the journey. It doesn’t take the band many seconds to return on-stage once the roaring applause begins, and luckily we’re treated to both old and new during the encore, “Sugar for the Pill” and “40 Days”. Although several minor details kept tonight’s show from being a flawless return for the band, it surely cements Slowdive’s importance and continued relevance on the alternative music stage; the band is still very much alive, no longer only showcased on record. Tonight, the music could very well be classified as the musical equivalent to autoerotic asphyxiation – suffocating noises keeping you chokehold until sweet release kicks in by virtue of the band’s harmonies. Despite a questionable start, Slowdive thankfully still managed to cut the rope just in time.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Slomo
  • 2. Catch the Breeze
  • 3. Crazy for You
  • 4. Star Roving
  • 5. Avalyn
  • 6. Souvlaki Space Station
  • 7. Everyone Knows
  • 8. Blue Skied an’ Clear
  • 9. When the Sun Hits
  • 10. No Longer Making Time
  • 11. Dagger
  • 12. Alison
  • 13. Golden Hair (Syd Barrett cover)
  • - Encore
  • 14. Sugar for the Pill
  • 15. 40 Days

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