It wasn’t an earth shattering melt your face off kind of show. It wasn’t supposed to be. It wasn’t even the best show I’ve seen in 2014; close though. You know what it was…it was perfect. Perfect in the sense that they sounded as beautiful as I remember the records sounding when I first heard them in my college dorm room late at night on my headphones. Perfect in the sense of exactly what I had hoped, the ideal show. Not in the sense of precision or flawlessness, though that’s not even a criterion that I would judge the seminal shoegazers by.
When I was graduating from high school in 1994, completely unaware of this band called Slowdive, they were wrapping up what would be their final North American tour for two decades! But let me tell you, it was well worth the wait. With no new albums or songs or even reissued albums imminent, the quintet from Reading, Berkshire in the UK returned to US soil in our nation’s capital for the first time on October 22, 2014. A short 4 days later they would play in Boston, MA where I would witness them live for the first time ever. Although primarily touring with Low in the US, the indie rock Mormons had the night off because it was a Sunday. Instead the sold out crowd was treated to Asobi Seksu’s first show back together in 2 years. The New York City dreampop outfit didn’t disappoint, and like Slowdive they didn’t miss a beat. In fact, and surprisingly, there were a ton of fans in attendance just to see Asobi Seksu.
After a solid opening set the crowd really began to fill in. With the smoke machines on full blast and the blue LED lights saturating the space a huge applause ushered in Rachel Goswell, Nick Chaplin, Neil Halstead, Christian Savill, and Simon Scott; known collectively as Slowdive. An even bigger eruption of applause and whistling followed the opening licks of their first ever single “Slowdive”. The tone was set for the evening. Rachel smiled and shook her tambourine sincerely. It was perfect, everyone was just so happy to be there. Without a pause the band slid seamlessly into Avalyn off of their debut full legth LP Just For A Day. Then came the avalanche of hits including “Catch the Breeze,” “Crazy for You,” my personal favorite “Machine Gun,” “Souvlaki Space Station,” “Blue Skied an’ Clear,” “When the Sun Hits,” “Morningrise,” and “She Calls.”
Then Neil introduced the next song by saying “this next song is called ‘Alison’,” which was followed by an uproarious applause from the fans. But before they broke into “Alison” Rachel asked with a smile “It is?” “No, no this next song is called ‘Dagger'” Halstead interjected with a corresponding laugh from fans and band members alike. Not a bad alternative. The lights, the video projections, the complexity of the setup executed with such beautiful simplicity; it was perfect. After the fan favorite Alison, Goswell crooned Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” to end the set.
After a brief time backstage Slowdive retuned to encore “Rutti” from Pygmallion and a blistering rendition of “40 Days “off of my favorite album, Souvlaki. It was a perfect evening.
Catch the Breeze
Crazy for You
Souvlaki Space Station
Blue Skied an’ Clear
When the Sun Hits
(Syd Barrett cover)