Few can claim to possess the legacy that Slowdive have cultivated over their almost 30-year career. After a long absence, the English quintet finally made it to our shores for the first time. Playing the Forum, Slowdive’s impact could be seen by the wide demographic of fans crowded around the front even before the support was on, to secure a prime vantage spot.
Kane Ikin opened the show’s proceedings with a continuous set of his trance-inducing experiments. While he ran the risk of being perceived as a fill-in DJ, the introduction of some spectacular projections alleviated his performance. As a staple of the underground electronic scene, it was a curious thing to see him perform on such a big stage, given his compositions are perhaps best reserved for a darker, more intimate venue, but it’s undeniable that he has a compelling conviction to his craft.
Slowdive arrived on stage to a rapturous applause, the crowd mesmerised by the band’s presence before they’ve even picked up their instruments. They launched into their satisfying slow burner ‘Slomo’ to kick off the set. While it took a brief moment for Rachel Goswell’s vocals to come through, once they were audible, the audience was reminded of her undeniable magic. Goswell, while initially timid, warmed up to the crowd and by the end of the performance was beaming, clearly beside herself with the audience’s reception.
Each song was accompanied by mind-altering visuals that served to have a calming effect for one song and a dizzying affect during another – at one stage during the show, the cascading movement even making one feel as though they’re sinking into the floor.
Richly textured and enhanced by the venue’s magnitude, each song transported the audience to another place. So immense was the wall of sound that each song built up to a point where it was hard not to close your eyes and surrender to the spell cast by the band.
The opening chords from ‘Crazy for You’received an enthusiastic response, while ‘Souvlaki Space Station’s shimmering groove sounded even better live. The band said no more than thank you onstage but the absence of any banter more or less proved that Slowdive mean business when it comes to playing a show.
The pairing of the band’s two most well-known songs, ‘When the Sun Hits’ and ‘Alison’, back to back was enrapturing. There was no doubt that there were plenty of people who thought they’d never hear these songs live, with plenty of ecstatic faces spotted in the crowd. Played before a wholly appreciative audience, it turned the show into a truly transformative experience.
Penultimate track ‘Dagger’ managed to make a very enthusiastic crowd of 2000 become pin-drop quiet, the weight of the song’s heartbreaking lyrics no doubt resonating with many.
With their career renewing self-titled album there was no question that Slowdive have maintained their vitality. Paired with the epic surrounds of the Forum, along with a career-spanning set, there was nothing that could have possibly made the show, and their long-awaited appearance in Australia, underwhelming.
Lowlight: Having to return to reality after the show.
Crowd favourite: Someone yelling out, “We’ve been waiting a really long time for this.”