Slowdive broke cover with last week’s announcement of a new album, Everything Is Alive, and tour dates that will keep them busy for the rest of 2023. RESOUND were there to catch them at their sold out gig at Exeter Phoenix.

As a city, Exeter has plenty going for it: a lovely Gothic cathedral, a multitude of independent shops, the river leading down the sea, the beaches of Exmouth, and the hills of Dartmoor looming in the distance. But when it comes to getting bands to look further down the M5 than Bristol things look a bit less rosy. So, when Slowdive announced a warm up gig ahead of their appearance at Glastonbury Festival, it was no surprise that all 450 tickets disappeared in a few minutes. Throw in the release of a new single, “kisses”, the announcement of their new album Everything Is Alive and it’s fair to say that anticipation amongst those gathering for a pre-gig pint in the bar of the venue was running high.

Helping to boost the fervour and energy in an already sweltering room were Pale Blue Eyes who have nipped up the A38 from Totnes. Having firmly established themselves on the radar of those with an ear for good music with the release of their debut album Souvenirs last year, they are now bolstering their reputation and gaining many new fans with an ongoing navigation of the nation’s venues whether as support or headlining in their own right. Being a local gig, they are clearly well known and from the off, the room is starting to bounce fuelled by the infectious energy coming back from the stage with openers “Globe” and “TV Flicker” laying down a marker.  As a live act, they are on the money, sweeping through a set that takes the best bits of 80s/90s guitar pop, creating an original sound in the process. By set closer “Dr Pong”, the room is saturated and an exodus heads to the bar/outdoor terrace to try and cool down whilst the stage is prepared for the headliners.

As a band, Slowdive need no introduction to those present in the now refreshed and re-packed room. For those less sure, a potted history would see the band forming in Reading in the late 1980s, getting labelled in as part of the shoegaze scene of young guitar bands producing ethereal guitar effects laden music that was pushed upwards by the music media before being shunted aside in favour of the “joys” of Britpop. By 1994, it was over and they were no more.  Reformed in 2014 and triumphant with a new album in 2017 (their fourth overall), 2023 sees them coming back with a vengeance after time away to record the aforementioned new album, not helped by COVID along the way. With predominantly sold out tours of Australia, North America, UK and Ireland and South America awaiting the rest of this year, it’s fair to say they are having the last laugh on those 1990s critics.

Taking to the stage, the band launched straight into “Slowdive” –the first song they released back in 1990– the familiar notes of the intro filling the room and ears of the expectant crowd. You might be thinking that for a 90s band, an aerial view of proceedings would resemble a Right Said Fred convention of middle aged men reliving their youth. But the passing years have allowed a new generation to discover the band’s music and the old timers reminiscing in the bar beforehand about the Slough Festival in 1991 are arguably in the minority to those in late teens and early 20s crowding the barrier and singing along to every word – a healthy situation for any band to be in and confirming the timeless nature of Slowdive’s music.

For a warmup, the band sounded incredible with the set progressing with a mix of early material and that from the last album around a core taken from their 1993 album, Souvlaki. For the main, the set sticks to the tried and tested, no surprise with a large festival appearance looming. “Sleep”, an unreleased demo that first got a live outing last year (see review) makes another appearance and has a much more polished muscular presence a year on. Crowd favourite “When the Sun Hits” leads the band into their new single “kisses” getting its first live outing. It proves to be the only new material but gets a rapturous response helped by an extended Cure-esque intro.

By now the band are at ease, with singer/guitarist Rachel Goswell distributing beatific smiles to audience members, whilst flanking guitarists Neil Halstead and Christian Savill manipulate their guitars to produce adjective defying cascades of reverberating sound, none more so than in set closer “Golden Hair” that sees them head close to achieving lift off. But whilst those three rightly get credit, the unsung heroes are bassist Nick Chaplin and drummer Simon Scott who hold things down, dominating the room with a flawless tight foundation.

It goes without saying that an encore is requested and duly rewarded with a sparse, skeletal version of “Dagger”, the fragile rendition of heartbreak captivating the room leading to the odd tear being shed. A final closer of “40 Days” gave familiar comfort and with a final farewell, the band depart to savour the moment before the madness of Glastonbury. And as anyone who caught their performance on the BBC will confirm, they absolutely nailed that as well.

So, new album, sold out gigs, four continents to visit to a fanbase split across generations over the next six months? Being Slowdive must feel quite good right now.

Slowdive’s new LP is available to pre-order at

Words and pictures: Geoff Shaw @gshmusicphotos