Dead leaves, cold rain, and a chill in the air that brings pink to your cheeks set the tone for last night’s Slowdive concert at the Majestic. The dreary weather created the ideal atmosphere for wrapping one’s self in the gauzy guitar sounds from one of the U.K.’s first creators of Shoegaze music. Before disbanding in 1994 Slowdive released three LPs, an array of EPs, and an unshakeable melody that’s haunted indie rock for the last 20 years.
This past year though, they have triumphantly returned and brought with them those original songs that defined certain Gen Xers who ignored grunge and chose the ethereal music of Shoegaze instead.
We sat down with lead songsmith Neil Halstead before the show to talk about their reformation and what lies ahead for the band. “We started talking about doing another record as Slowdive,” he begins. “It came from there and we decided to do some gigs, ten shows over the summer but we expanded it to twenty-seven.” On the American reaction so far to their shows he tells us, “It’s been great, this is the only show that hasn’t sold out so far.” The Detroit gig didn’t get added on until after the American tour had been announced, unfortunately. We ask about his last memory of playing in Detroit before calling it quits. “Actually, it was at the Magic Stick,” he remembers, “we were really late after our bus broke down and we arrived at ten o’clock at night and we had to pull all our gear through the audience.”
This time though they are well prepared and a few hours later Halstead stands alongside vocalist and guitarist Rachel Goswell with Christian Savill on guitar as well to a packed, enraptured audience. They unleash “Machine Gun” Simon Scott’s drums kicking into hypnotic applause, Goswell coos, “See you walking and I know she’s my friend,” goose bumps raise all over. The audience sways back and forth under the spell of Nick Chaplin’s bass grooves, the whole crowd belongs to them. The backdrop featured twelve screens playing videos of abstract close-ups of light bulbs and doll eyes that brought back hazy memories of watching MTV’s 120 Minutes, while a dizzying light show queued up with the climax of each song.
“Listen close and don’t be stoned,” Halstead sings the opening refrain of “Alison” and knees began to buckle across the crowd, seriously, people reached for their others, your humble correspondent included. The night went on with each song seemingly toppling the last until closing with a Syd Barret cover, “Golden Hair” which included a pummeling pinnacle of drums and guitar stabs intertwined with beams of blinding light that would have felt like punishment if it weren’t so heavenly. Their encore was nothing more than a satisfying, post-coital sigh after that spectacle. If this tour is any indication for what the future holds for Slowdive, their best years could very well be right in front of them.