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Slowdive - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London, 18/5/2014

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 9 / 7 / 2014

Slowdive - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London, 18/5/2014


Anthony Strutt watches seminal shoegazing band Slowdive play a stunning comeback show in their first gig in twenty years at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in London

I am lucky enough to be old enough now to have seen many bands over the years, as well as having been in the right place to see some classic reunions also. Slowdive are a band that hold that magical place in my heart, but I never dreamt that I would ever see them again. Rachel Goswell (vocals and guitars) has developed hearing problems (The band now support www.attitudeisverything.org.uk, which helps people with hearing problems.). Neil Halstead (vocals and guitar) doesn't live in the past, Christian Savill (guitar) lives in the States, and Nick Chaplin hasn't picked up his bass since the band split in May 1994. Drummer Simon Scott meanwhile has been busy with his band Televise and also his recent solo career. I originally saw them three times and bought all three of their albums, ‘Just for a Day’ (1991), ‘Souvlaki’ (1993) and ‘Pygmalion’ (1995), but it was in the years in between that I really fell under their spell. Over the years I have tracked down everyone in the band down to interview, and I instantly fell under the influence of post-Slowdive band Mojave 3. Shoegaze, of which Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine were the most seminal acts, was huge, created by ‘NME’ but also destroyed by it when English flags fell under a 60’s influence and the Britpop banner was born. If that wasn't enough, the rising Grunge movement also helped to kick Shoegaze to the ground. Around 2004, both the ClubAC30 and Sonic Cathedral labels came into the world to remind people of what was Shoegaze. It was still a dirty word but out of this grew NuGaze, which helped My Bloody Valentine to re-launch themselves. Tonight's gig is a secret warm up show, promoted as a tenth Anniversary gig for Sonic Cathedral and with a poster bearing a Slowdive sleeve, but it didn't sell out as quickly as the next night's gig at Village Underground which sold out in about 90 seconds. The total bill is kept secret until the evening itself, but as I arrive I am greeted by both Neil and Rachel, so I know now I am not just dreaming. The whole Hoxton gig has a better atmosphere then the next evening's performance, although the next night the sound is better even if the audience isn't. Hoxton has a laidback vibe, and as we all move into the little back room that holds at the most two hundred everyone is smiling. Mark Gardener of Ride opens with a solo set of delayed guitar effects that is sadly too short, but delivers a set of mostly fresh material drawing from his next album with Robin Guthrie. Of the oldies in his set, we get Ride's ‘Polar Bear’ and ‘The Story of the Eye’. Ulrich Schnauss follows with a forty-five minutes set of electronic soundscapes that either chills you or bores you, depending if you dig his brand of NuGaze. Slowdive wander onto the stage at about 9.30 p.m.in a casual manner, and play longer then the set time posted on the wall. In just over eighty minutes they play the most important reunion show I have ever witnessed. Drawing from their three albums worth of material, what surprises me is the lack of material from ‘Just for a Day’. They, however, play a lot of classic B-sides, great A-sides of early material, stand out tracks from both ‘Souvlaki’ and some of the songs from ‘Pygmalion’, which was never played live, get a first airing as well. There is also a Rachel–sung Syd Barrett B-side and a Peel Session version of ‘Golden Hair’ which starts off solo and scary and builds to a rip roaring climax. They encore with just one track, ‘Alison’ from ‘Souvlaki’, which ends the perfect night. I hang around afterwards to say my thank yous to the band and leave with even more of my collection signed and pictures with every member of a band that still aren't important enough to enough people.

Also at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London

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Slowdive - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London, 18/5/2014

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