Slowdive – Concorde 2, Brighton – 12th December 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

The return of Slowdive back in 2014 was as surprising as it was triumphant. Surprising due to the waning popularity of the band – and the entire shoegaze genre – the Reading quintet have relished their return to the forefront of the now burgeoning genre. With their fourth, eponymous album now under their belt – the record dropping last year to critical acclaim – the band have rightly taken their place as one of Britain’s best bands. Their Concorde 2 show, which was a special warm up for a huge support slot with The War on Drugs at The O2 the night after, proved that their niche appeal is now developing into something much bigger. An immensely tight live band, who sound as good on the night as they do on record, Slowdive’s shoegaze goodness brought a hypnotising nature to the 600-capacity venue.

Support on the night came from flourishing London band Toothpaste, who have impressed around the London live circuit, and were clearly buzzing to be supporting one of their musical heroes. Opening with debut single, ‘TV Years’, the night grew from strength to strength and slowly grew darker and gloomier with each and every note. Keeping talk to a minimum, except to cleverly namedrop themselves repeatedly, the band carry a more glam-rock persona in the live sphere than they do on record. Second single ‘Bedtime’, which was mixed by Slowdive’s Simon Scott, is a beautiful pop record glistening with dreamy sensibilities. A massively exciting up-and-coming band, Toothpaste are certainly one to watch.

Throughout the gap between Toothpaste’s superb set and Slowdive’s arrival to the stage, there was a beautiful sense of anticipation that the audience were about to see something special. Littered with middle-aged men, who were no doubt there the first time around, this felt like a genuine opportunity to see icons on an intimate setting. Not ones to let their fans down, either, Slowdive certainly matched the occasion with a supremely confident set. Opening with Slowdive’s ‘Slomo’, and continuing into debut album cuts ‘Catch the Breeze’ and ‘Slowdive’, it was clear that the band were prepared to take the Concorde 2 crowd on a sonic journey from 1991 to now.

With an exceptionally atmospheric light show, too, there’s an intense aura around the quintet that makes the band a treat to all the senses. Lead single ‘Star Roving’, their first song back after 22 years, was a mid-set highlight. A brash, propulsive number that proves one of the more euphoric tracks of the night, it’s an example of Slowdive’s magnificence. Dreamy vocals, with a sensual musical backdrop, it’s a sensational and aural delight. So much so that many of the audience’s eyes closed, letting the music wash over them.

Unsurprisingly, due to the impressiveness of their comeback record, the Slowdive cuts were the most impressive. ‘Sugar for the Pill’, in particular, is an illusory and romantic number that evokes both the New Romantics of the 80s and the baggy Manchester vibes of The Stone Roses. Ultimately, though, Slowdive proved that they’ve not skipped a beat throughout their career. From classics such as ‘Alison’ and ‘Souvlaki Space Station’ to new cuts like ‘No Longer Making Time’, Slowdive are the definitive shoegaze band and an incredibly impressive quintet in their own right. Simply sublime from start to finish.

Liam McMillen