Waves of melodic guitar, pedal boards and ghostly vocals are signatures of Slowdive and its cherished “shoegaze” genre.
For the British band, a 22-year hiatus of new material ends tonight with their sold-out engagement at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall.
The anticipated album, simply titled Slowdive, has just been released and runs the chance of enveloping the entire venue with its colossal sound.
Walking out to Brian Eno’s “Deep Blue Day,” the quintet takes the fog-covered stage and plunge into “Slomo,” blissfully bringing the crowd to their knees. Streams of purple and blue heighten the mood, blending perfectly with the layered, impactful starter.
Almost instantly, the second song “Catch the Breeze” redirects the atmosphere. Bleached light now accentuates shadows. The large video screen that towers behind the band – projecting a swirling pattern of black and white – telegraphs a hypnotic emblem to swaying onlookers.
It is here that bassist Nick Chaplin and drummer Simon Scott rise-up. The punchy undertones accompanied by the fast fills swell tremendously as both become lost in a wall of amps.
Cutting through the beautiful noise, it is impossible to comment on the band’s great return without remarking on its hushed and haunting vocal talents.
Rachel Goswell’s angelic croon remains preserved in the amber of 1993. On “Machine Gun” she hones the music to a specific destination when she sings, creating melodies that feel completely unknown, yet unforgettable.
Elsewhere, chief songwriter and unofficial leader, Neil Halstead, shows a difference in vocal tone. Never as powerful as Goswell, his once soft whisper is now a folksy inflection, owing much to his alt-country side projects.
Nevertheless, on “Alison” the magic coalesces, pairing Halstead’s talents with heavy reverb, making it one of the night’s flat-out highlights.
Simultaneously in the past and present, Slowdive play for nearly two hours, comprised of a set-list that any fan could only dream.
Remarkably, tracks both new and old float seamlessly together, as if time never existed at The Danforth Music Hall. Tell me, what more could you ask for in a comeback?
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Review and Photos by Myles Herod | @mylesherod