SLOWDIVE – LOW, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, November 2014
Text and Photos: Tiina Liimu
The measured tempo for this pairing would lay waste to any melancholy brought on by the Pacific Coast downpour. A double bill of seasoned artists that not only understood the blurry delicacy of this intense form, but demonstrated adeptness with an unhurried execution and a natural elegance. Low, Minnesota’s practitioners of slowcore would lead the evening as the generous crowd of long-term admirers intermingled with a curious new audience.
After an extended leave from performing, 2014 brought the reformed Slowdive to the stage with a series of festivals and a tour of sold out dates. Guitarist Christian Savill joined both vocalists/guitarists Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead along with the rhythm section of Nick Chaplin on bass and drummer Simon Scott.
These UK shoegazers practiced their hypnotic craft opening with the ethereal namesake “Slowdive,” gliding into “Avalyn” and captivated with a striking rendition of “Crazy For You.” A wide gaze across the room revealed a shift from a crowd of spectators to an intimate absorbed gathering.
Their catalogue played against a backdrop of multichannel video projections. The ambiance interspersed tracks from the ‘90s releases Just For A Day, Souvlaki and Pygmalion. By this time concertgoers had long forgotten the dampened climate outside as Slowdive floated through “When the Sun Hits” to “Blue Skied an’ Clear.”
Pedal aficionados had their attentions drawn to guitarists left and right. Their arsenal embraced Goswell as she alternated from vocals, guitar to tambourine steadied by Chaplin and Scott’s pacing. “She Calls” and “Morningrise” would draw the midnight set into an appropriate finish with an flawless delivery of Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair.”
Following a deep breath, Slowdive returned to the floor with “Rutti” and “40 Days” closing the book of this otherworldly experience.