Gig review: Slowdive at Leeds Town Hall

A spiritual, emotional service was held in Leeds Town Hall this week. From their formation in 1989, Slowdive became one of the most iconic shoegaze bands before retreating to other projects in 1995. After a hiatus and a reunion in 2014, a new album surfaced in 2017, and this week's blinding show at Leeds Town Hall proved that they're onto a good thing.

Slowdive. Picture: Ingrid Pop
Slowdive. Picture: Ingrid Pop

The last time that the band visited Leeds was in 1993, at the Irish Centre. From the first notes of their beguiling set in the form of ‘Slomo’, also the first track from current self-titled album (the band’s first in 22 years), there was a collective sigh of relief from a near-full venue, brimming with fans who imagined they’d never see Slowdive live, again for older fans and never newcomers to their fanbase.

Earlier in the day, a request for a Sisters of Mercy T-shirt popped up on the Facebook event (a nod to the Leeds goth-rockers), although it seemed nothing was forthcoming in the band’s stage garb.

Bathed in mint green and warm yellow lights, the band uttered few words throughout the set, beyond Neil Halstead proclaiming ‘you guys are quiet’ in between tracks, and Rachel Goswell remarking that she can’t remember the last time the band played the city, before launching in to Catch The Breeze.

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    The band peppered their spacious, glowing set with a mix of old and new, avoiding the potential nostalgia fest, where the glorious gaze of Star Roving and Don’t Know Why met with the band’s debut album, Souvlaki. Goswell commented, as the opening notes of one of their most defining tracks, Souvlaki Space Station, rang out, that she’d clocked Leeds’ Greek restaurant Souvlaki just around the corner, and would be heading there for a photograph afterwards (and they did – check the band’s Instagram profile).

    When The Sun Hits was a reminder of a band who hold global cult status but never had mainstream success – not that you could tell by the audience filling out Leeds Town Hall, who welcomed a return to newer track Sugar For The Pill, proving that the quietly-confident Slowdive are just as current now as they were in the 90s.