Slowdive – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2014
The first of many shoegaze moments occurred near the beginning of Slowdive’s sold-out Terminal 5 show on Saturday night. The group—pioneers of a sound that combines loud, fuzzy guitars and ethereal vocals, now emulated by a plethora of contemporary bands—recently reunited after disbanding in the mid-’90s. While strobe lights flickered around them, Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell began to sing “Catch the Breeze” from 1991’s Just for a Day. As the song progressed, all band members (minus the drummer) were focused intently on their guitars, bass and effects pedals, necks craned downward, rocking gently back and forth amid the dreamy chords—the classic shoegaze stance and sound.
As Slowdive played precise and lovely versions of crowd favorites like “Crazy for You,” “Machine Gun” and “Souvlaki Space Station,” they cycled through an impressive lineup of guitars, even taking a moment to give a nod of appreciation to their guitar tech, a constant onstage presence between songs, swapping and receiving and replacing armfuls of guitars. To their credit, for a band with such intricate guitar arrangements and dynamics, Slowdive’s songs sounded bright and clean, never muddy or muddled, often classic shoegaze stumbling blocks.
“This is a pop song, kind of,” proclaimed Halstead before the band played what may have been the night’s crowd favorite, “Alison.” Indeed, a catchy song on the surface with moderately morose lyrics, it’s a prime example of Slowdive’s signature subtle hypnotic power, a sound that was exhilarating to experience live. By giving us a taste of their classic shoegaze, Slowdive managed to also feel completely modern and fresh—a very successful reunion indeed. —Alena Kastin