Slowdive Returns to the Palace Theatre for a Shoegazer Summer Serenade


It’s been a soothing Slowdive Summer ever since the group began dropping new songs off their new 2023 album, everything is alive, a few months ago. Hearing “Kisses” for the first time back in June brought back a flood of memories. Especially the video that accompanied the first Slowdive track to be released in 5 years. The fond recollections of cruising around late into the summer nights with friends or just on my own with the open road and music to occupy my mind. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait more than a decade for this release like we did after they reunited and later released the self-titled album that came out in 2017.

My appreciation for these shogaze icons began in 1997 when another favorite band, The Gathering, released a cover of the song “When The Sun Hits” which led me to seek out and hear the original. Never expected I’d be able to catch Slowdive live so I was thrilled to finally get the chance. 

Drab Majesty took the stage first at the Palace Theatre in Saint Paul. There was little that I did know about this duo other than I was aware of a connection to Emma Ruth Rundle. With as much as I enjoy Rundle’s music I never delved further into what that connection was. Perhaps that’s a good thing since I wouldn’t have had the same reaction to their performance as I did when I saw them opening for Slowdive. Sometimes hearing music for the first time hits really well when it’s first heard via a live performance. Wow, what an impressive performance that was!

Per their bio, “Drab Majesty is the project of Deb DeMure, the androgynous alter-ego of L.A.-based musician Andrew Clinco and partner Mona D.” Clinco played drums alongside Rundle in the band Marriages but while this is down a completely different path it was an enjoyable one to travel down.

The two walked out and took their positions on the stage to a sparse setup as one would expect for a two person project. DeMure with an electric guitar and vocals and Mona D handling the synth, vocals and triggering the backing tracks. However, there was nothing sparse about the music. Tragic Wave is their self described term for their music and that is a perfect way to put it. 

Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell joined Drab Majesty for one of the final songs of their set. Goswell’s early stage appearance drew cheers from the crowd as the three of them performed the song” Vanity” which was recently released. DeMure and Goswell link up for some somber harmonized vocals before Goswell goes off on her own for a few bars. By the end they were all singing together and I was humming along in my head. 

A group that I will doubt have to delve into further and their music will suit me well as autumn creeps in. 

Slowdive’s last release was an enjoyable one but my listening ears have eventually strayed away from their albums. Their latest effort really sparked a resurgence in me to reacquaint myself with their music once again. It reawaked my appreciation for this band as this album brought them back into my orbit of regularly listened to music. Not just their new album but the older ones as well. Everything they’ve done is alive again in my aural realm. Various compositions that stretched out over the decades of time and all standing up on their own accord while having that quintessential Slowdive touch. 

Their new album has become my favorite and I feel so grateful to catch them out on tour for it. It’s a modern day Slowdive with nostalgic elements and I appreciate the work they’ve done to get here and share this wonderful music with us. 

The entire setlist was full of songs that I wanted to hear live, both new and old. It was striking how loud and thumping “Souvlaki Space Station” was in person as opposed to the album version. The bass really cut through and hit me. 

Another one that stands out in a live setting is their cover of Syd Barret’s “Golden Hair.” Now that’s my preferred way for a cover to be handled. They really put their sonic spin on it and the live version allows it to drift out further. It has the hauntingly slow build up where Goswell sings the few lyrics and then walks off stage into the darkness as the rest of the band plays out the remainder of the music. They turn and face the drummer, Simon Scott, and walk towards each other to close the distance between them. Eventually forming a circle as they hone in on each other’s performances. 

It’s remarkable to see how this Syd Barrett song got the Slowdive treatment. The original album version was about half the length to this modern day live version. I found a place perched up in a side balcony where I took in the majority of the concert.  Much to my befuddlement, a few people in the chairs in front of me got up and left as they announced that “Golden Hair” was the final song of the evening. Surely not as encores were expected. Fortunately for me I stepped up and filled their void to enjoy this one as well as the ensuing encores. It was a very peaceful moment that I found myself in as I sat there gazing at the scene below. There was a calm before the storm when the music crescendoed into a lush and dense wall of sound as the strobe lights flickered across the venue. An excellent song choice to close out this night of the tour as they walked off the stage to an appreciative roar from the audience.

However, all did not end there. They returned for an encore to play three more songs much to the delight of the packed Palace. Plucking out two songs off the new album, “prayer remembered” as well as the sonically and densely packed “the slab.” They dug into their back catalog and wrapped up the night with “40 Days” which invoked a standing ovation from the crowd. 

When bands go on hiatus or call it quits and then come back again there is a question as to how much longer they’ll be active once they return. If “everything is alive” turns out to be their swan song then it’s an astounding album to close out on and I’m glad to have seen them play it live. Hopefully they’ll be back again to Saint Paul in the future for another show, perhaps even with another new album. No doubt it will be well worth the wait however long that should be and that is a show I will not miss out on.