‘A triumphant return for a much loved band’: Slowdive live at the Forum

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‘A triumphant return for a much loved band’: Slowdive live at the Forum

words by Cody Brougham

After waiting for something you fear may never come, the arrival of such an event can only be made sweeter.

This was undoubtedly the case for many fans as the elusive Slowdive appeared before a packed Forum crowd last Saturday night. Just as they had re-emerged for Australian audiences in 2018 who thought they may never get a chance to see the 90’s shoegaze icons in the flesh, their most recent tour comes off the back of a string of cancelled dates back in April, which served only to build the anticipation for the quintet’s return to our shores.

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Melbourne’s own Flyying Colours started the night as a no-brainer for the perfect opening act. Their sound most definitely has a not-so-subtle nod to the headliner and their contemporaries, but the live set bristled with much more energy and power than is to be expected of the genre.

The faux night sky and grandiose nature of the Forum seemed to elevated the experience of seeing the band. Although perhaps overwhelmed by the moment, Flyying Colours looked perfectly in place on the big stage and their colossal sound was the perfect overture for what was to come.

As the crowd milled around in the wait for the main act trying to secure a perfect view, it was refreshing to see a curious mixture of participants. Young and old stood side by side as a harmonious collective all joined together by the experience we were all about to enjoy. The melting pot of such a varied audience was a testament to the band’s undying legacy, we all held our breath as one as we waited for the house lights to dim.

And then, the band emerged.

Unassuming in their fairly standard dress, aside from Rachel Goswell who was adorned by a thin cape and an effortlessly cool two-toned bob, it was almost jarring to see the much mythologized band as just regular humans. That sense was immediately washed away as they launched into 2017’s Slomo, the trademark hypnotic guitars and titanic reverb washes transforming the adoring crowd into a hypnotic state for the remainder of the night.

Stage presence is clearly not to be expected from a band known for pioneering a genre aptly titled for spending the night avoiding eye contact, but colourful projections illuminated the stage behind the band and filled the visual void left by Slowdive’s uncomfortable nature. Both Goswell and Hastead’s vocals have not faded with age in the slightest, and proved just as strikingly beautiful as they swirled beneath the haunting orchestra of guitars and synthesisers.

The night was a stunning run of classic hits from new and old releases as the band covered their discography from their early beginnings right up to recent single Kisses. Classics such as Catch the Breeze and Alison echoed throughout the giant theatre, and despite the songs not typically lending themselves to an audience singalong, the whole crowd swelled and joined in every word as the opening of When The Sun Hits reached its triumphant chorus.

Little was said to the crowd throughout the night aside from an occasional “thank you”, but it was clear the band were grateful and truly appreciated the moment. There was a brief pause as the band quickly left and returned to rapturous applause for their encore as Hastead began the chords from 1993’s Dagger, before finishing the evening to classic 40 Days.

Guitars were left to a heaving of feedback, there was a small smile and a wave, and then they disappeared just as unassumingly as they had arrived. It was a truly triumphant return for a much loved band, and though there is always a fear that they may not return again, they left us all with a truly magical evening.

Thank you Slowdive, I hope we meet again.

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