Richard Brabin witnesses the return of a classic band from the days of showgaze, who have lost none of their relevance and beauty


O2 Academy Oxford

June 2 2017

The most recent resurgence of the shoegaze dreamscape which mysteriously drifted its way through the late 80s and early 90s is certainly a strange type of revival.

In most cases the genre is revitalised by contemporary bands reinventing the era, giving it a new aesthetic, direction, methodology and generally putting a modernistic spin on often outdated music. However, in this odd comeback, it doesn’t appear that any current bands have either the nous or propensity to reimagine things, leaving the original proprietors to take matters into their own hands.

Recently we’ve seen Ride, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush and now Slowdive release new material and pull themselves back onto the spotify playlists of zealous hipsters. In terms of the quality of output, it has been varied. With the good, the bad and the ugly all accounted for, Slowdive’s self titled is among the best. of all the revivalists, showcasing a band who are still perfecting their idiosyncratic dreaming soundscapes. They can still pull in the crowds too, as anyone arriving late to the gig will testify, finding themselves at the back of a sea of people of all ages, creeds and colours. The music itself is simply spectacular, the constant flow of reverb hauntingly refreshing and seems to throb gently around the walls, filling up the O2 with ethereal tones. The sheer volume and depth of noise is astounding; three guitarists sending out wave after wave of delayed tremolo. Halstead and Goswell’s vocal parts sit in the mix as opposed to on top of it, giving the music structural integrity while the rhythm section pulses hypnotically, holding the sumptuous compositions together.

At times one could argue that Slowdive perhaps don’t necessary go anywhere musically and that the untrained ear could find it somewhat ubiquitous. However, their music is so all-encompassing that their hour-plus of scintillating work, both old and new, seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

A lot has happened musically in the three decades since Slowdive first formed, countless fads and fashions have come and gone, often leading us to look back with cringeworthy nostalgia. Slowdive are different. They are a band who are testament to a belief that good music is, and always will be, good music. It doesn’t sound outdated or particularly on brand and Slowdive are pure enough to survive another 30y years untouched as an absolute fundamental to British music.