Fashion is a fickle old thing trends come and go. The same is of course true for music, but the turnaround in favour Slowdive have seen this past year is really quite extraordinary. Widely derided in the 90's for being out of step with the oafish lad-dominated Britpop, they stood no chance. Even the intellectually refined Manic Street Preachers protested their very existence with Richey Edwards claiming: "I will always hate Slowdive more than Hitler." Against such vitriol, they didn't have a chance.
Turn the clock forward 20 years however, and things are altogether different. In the wake of a shoegaze revival, a triumphant festival run this summer proved that time has been kind to the much-maligned Reading band. It's evident tonight too, such is the crowd reaction when they step onstage to a hero's welcome at The Forum.
Opening with a thunderous version of 'Slowdive', their eponymous debut single, the band set their stall out from the off. Yes, there's anintricacy and splendourabout their sound, but it's also punishingly loud. The gorgeous 'Avalyn' follows, with co-vocalist Rachel Goswell's beautiful yet haunting vocals remaining just as breathtaking as they do on record.
What's interesting is the direction that the band has moved songs from their final album, 'Pygmalion', in. Whilst on record, these sparse, delicate songs are allowed room to breathe, tonight they are forceful take for example 'Crazy For You', which is presented with more power and tenacity, driven on by the stellar drumming of Simon Scott.
The highlight of the evening is almost certainly 'When The Sun Hits', dedicated to a friend who recently passed away, which builds and builds into a huge crescendo, as vocalist and guitarist Neil Halstead leads the band into a stunningly beautiful climax. Similarly a quite thrilling 'Golden Hair' closes the main set led by a chilling vocal delivery from Goswell before she exits the stage, allowing the band to drive into a pummeling, sensational and ecstatic wall of noise so loud it's felt through your entire body.
So in the wake of this glorious return, not only do the songs sound so fresh and as potent as ever, but the thirst for them is truly real. As they leave the stage tonight following a euphoric encore, the final words spoken are "we'll see you next year." Whilst they could easily rest on their laurels, with their legacy finally secure, surely there lies a hint of new material. It would be foolish not to try, given as Slowdive are more vital now than they ever have been.
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