Slowdive

support Dead Sea
author LL date 21/02/18 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

When the British shoegazers of Slowdive last played in Denmark, it was no further back than September of last year in DR Koncerthusets Studie 2 - a show that was sold out for months before. Thus it was a pleasant surprise for their many Danish fans that they would return already this soon. Even with the added space of Store Vega, this show has also been sold out for a while and as I make my way inside the venue, I'm already scampering to try and find the most optimal spot in a venue that often makes me feel almost claustrophobic when sold out. I opt for a place on the upstairs balcony which might have an effect on my perception of the sound quality of the evening's proceedings but more on that later.

All pictures by Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Dead Sea

This relatively new French four-piece has only released two singles so far and I have been curious to just hear more of the music that has scored them an opening spot for all of this European tour. Their dreamy indie songs have an enveloping quality in common with the evening's headliner but their foundation is loud electronic beats which is part of why their music has a way poppier touch. The floating layers of guitar, bass, and synths blend over each other seamlessly, creating a good backdrop for their vocalist to weave into with her soft mid-register tone. Their very smooth sound gets a little edge from something as simple as a cymbal played frantically by the guy also in control of the beats which is a really nice touch. All the elements of their sound are really pleasant to listen to and the band builds up momentum well through the set, culminating in an extended and loud all-instrumental ending with strobe lights. It doesn't look like anyone in the audience is familiar with them from the get-go, but they seem to slowly but surely convince a lot of us of their merit and many are soon bobbing their heads or calmy grooving along. Altogether, a well-crafted warm-up performance although they don't blow us away entirely.

7

Slowdive

About a quarter past 9, the band members of Slowdive appear on the stage to applause and cheers and the recognizable and uplifting melody of "Slomo" opens the set. The audience is grooving along from the very start in a sort of slight collective movement that lasts throughout the show and in general the atmosphere is one of calm reverie as we all float away into the magical songs. Even as their mellow soundscapes have a tendency to blur into just a mass of the same for me, the setlist is very well put together so that we get good variations in tempo and rhythm while I even discover some subtle differences in mood that I haven't noticed before in the relatively short time I have been a fan. One of the early highlights for me is a dynamic performance of "Crazy For You", that stands out just before the more upbeat "Star Roving" from the group's newest album that is the first song of the evening to be greeted by a few cheers from around the room.

Unfortunately, the band's immersion-inducing visuals projector that paints them all with various patterns and colors quickly begins to have problems. To begin with it only blacks out at regular intervals but after a while, the connection seems to get worse and worse until it's just gone for most of the remainder of the show. Of course, it doesn't take away from the musical performance of the band but for massive shoegaze like this, it would still have been a wonderful element to help us disappear with them into their musical world, especially during the more spaced-out songs like "Slowdive", "Avalyn" or "Blue Skied an' Clear". The very best moments of the set, then, instead turn out to be the generally more rhythmically focused new songs as well as the two times the soundscapes seem to get a knock upwards in intensity from an added guitar played by Rachel Goswell. The first time this happens for a dynamic performance of "Catch the Breeze" that ends with an intense instrumental part accompanied by strobe lights, which is followed by one of my personal favorite Slowdive songs, the meditative "No Longer Making Time".

The second time is for their performance of the older amazing duo of "When the Sun Hits" and "Alison" that both stem from the group's much-loved second album "Souvlaki". The Slowdive fans that I know always unequivocally hail it as their masterpiece and thus it doesn't seem surprising that especially the five songs from that are the ones that get the crowd cheering the most tonight. Especially the dark and rumbling "Souvlaki Space Station" gets this treatment while the quieter "Dagger" in the encore has almost the entire venue listening intensely. Overall, the sound mix is good but through the set, I feel like some of the guitar details are getting a bit muddled out and the vocals also have a bit of a tendency to disappear into the many layers of music. It also has to do with the way the music is written but it seems that the mix could bring both the delicate vocals and some of the higher pitched ringing of the guitars out better than was the case tonight. Still, it was a good show with a great setlist by one of the very best dreamy shoegaze bands out there at all and that is bound to set the bar high.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Slomo
  • 2. Slowdive
  • 3. Crazy For You
  • 4. Star Roving
  • 5. Avalyn
  • 6. Catch the Breeze
  • 7. No Longer Making Time
  • 8. Souvlaki Space Station
  • 9. Blue Skied an' Clear
  • 10. When the Sun Hits
  • 11. Alison
  • 12. Sugar For the Pill
  • 13. Golden Hair

- Encore

  • 14. Don't Know Why
  • 15. Dagger
  • 16. 40 Days

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