From downtempo drone to reverb-soaked classic shoegaze, the Majestic Theatre in Detroit offered everything a gracefully-aging concertgoer could want on a chilly autumn night. Minimalist mavens Low and feedback fiends Slowdive combined to offer a night to remember, lining up a night of the world’s slowest but still-inevitable one-two punch – easy to see coming but impossible to avoid. The audience knew what was coming but found themselves still surprised by an evening of dronegaze done to perfection.
Special guests Low offered up a predictably sound set, but the evening kicked into a higher gear when Slowdive took the stage for their first show in Detroit since they played in 1992 with fellow first-gen shoegazers Catherine Wheel. The crowd nodded and swayed with furious abandon through such Slowdive favorites as “Catch the Breeze,” “Machine Gun” and “Souvlaki Space Station,” while era-appropriate images – doll eyes, kaleidoscope patterns and black-and-white swirls – flickered on the artfully-arranged stage screens. The occasional triple-guitar attack, combined with Rachel Goswell’s dreamy vocals and Neil Halstead’s soundscapes, worked the crowd into a slow-moving frenzy, until crowd pleasers “Dagger,” “Alison” and a cover of dream-rock forefather Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” closed out the feedback-filled set, bringing to mind hundreds of candlelit teenage bedroom dreams for the assembled crowd.
It was the spectacle the crowd came to see – and Slowdive, despite a two-decade absence from the Motor City, delivered with an impeccably tight sound that hadn’t aged a day, unlike a large component of the audience, including this reviewer. But, if the healthy smattering of fresh-faced youth in attendance was any indicator, the so-called Scene that Celebrates Itself has a robust future ahead to swoon its way through.