Slowdive @ The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 24 Feb

Thirty years on from their 90s glories, Slowdive are surfing a wave of interest in everything shoegaze

Live Review by Max Sefton | 28 Feb 2024
  • Slowdive

It’s a pretty good time for both of tonight’s bands. Slowdive are surfing a wave of interest in everything shoegaze which seemed to kickstart around the time of their superlative 2017 comeback album and has seen their mid-90s classic Souvlaki rack up tens of millions of plays.

Meanwhile tonight’s support Whitelands have just put out their debut album, the intriguingly titled Night-Bound Eyes Are Blind To The Day. It’s an accomplished eight tracks that updates Slowdive’s dream pop sprawl with the fresh perspective of what NME describes as “people of colour operating in a genre historically dominated by white dudes.” 

With their album out just 24 hours earlier, guitarist-vocalist Etienne Quartey-Papafio sets the crowd some homework to give it a listen before plunging into the swirling Setting Sun. The wraithlike Cheer is described as a rework of a “very old” song from 2018, but the most impressive moment is closer Now Here’s The Weather which puts some extra post-rock muscle behind its dreamy melody as projections swirl on the backdrop like snowflakes in a globe. Quartey-Papafio’s vocals are not especially distinct, buried deep in the mix, but overall it's an interesting stall-setter from the young band.

Success seems to be treating Slowdive well. Their second reunion album Everything Is Alive picked up positive reviews across the board and the Reading five-piece look comfortable and happy to be out on the road again.

Regular Slowdive drummer Simon Scott is absent but his stand-in Nicholas Willes does an admirable job. Bassist Nick Chaplin swings his instrument round his knees, while guitarist and chief songwriter Neil Halstead peers out from beneath the brim of a baseball cap, but the crowd’s clear favourite is Rachel Goswell, the alternately imperious and ethereal singer, whose witchy hand gestures and keening voice provides the focal point for the band.

Tonight’s setlist takes in 15 tracks from across their five albums, from Everything Is Alive’s opener Shanty, through to Souvlaki’s much-loved 40 Days. For the encore, there’s treats aplenty, with Sugar for the Pill from 2017’s self-titled album, the bare bones Dagger and a finally a closing cover of Syd Barrett’s Golden Hair whose lengthy instrumental climax nods to the impact that the band had on subsequent acts like Mogwai and Sigur Rós.

Thirty years on from their 90s glories, it seems like a good day for both Slowdive and their cross-generational fanbase.