Slowdive at Massey Hall

Photos by Roger Cullman.

Everything old is new again. Kind of an exaggerated sentiment that many reviewers throw out when dealing with nostalgia acts. Lord knows, there’s been a shoegaze revival happening since, I don’t know, since it went away in 1994. Canada, and Toronto in particular, seems to have an ongoing romance going with “the scene that celebrates itself.” So its no surprise that they showed in droves to catch scene stalwarts, Slowdive.

With recent tours by most of the acts that dominated the sound in the early 90s, Slowdive are perhaps the most contemporary sounding of the lot. Seemingly they have learned a thing or two from the bands that worshipped them. Bands like Nothing and DIIV. There’s a muscle to their sound that wasn’t there originally as evidenced in tracks like “Star Roving.” In a word, they sound bigger.

Not quite steroidal, they still have the benefit of dynamic, a skill they perfected on albums like 1993’s Souvlaki and 1995’s Pygmalion. With this year’s self-titled release, the band builds on the sound and have quite possibly eclipsed the lofty heights set by those particular benchmarks.

Massey Hall provided the perfect backdrop for Slowdive’s swirling orchestrations. Illuminated by their intense lightshow, the rafters at times looked like they had been somehow magically consumed by the Northern Lights. It was a fluid, downright hallucinogenic, experience only enhanced by near-perfect sound. The offset vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell stood in perfect harmony with the environment, creating an illusion that we may very well have been outside gazing up at the stars instead of down at our shoes.

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