|White Water (2015)||CD / Vinyl|
“For us, success is to get people really listening. We’ve had audiences fall quiet and people come up to us in tears. It’s strange, but it’s incredibly touching when people react like that” – Rob Goodwin, singer, The Slow Show.
There’s never been a band from Manchester quite like The Slow Show, whose minimal but epic songs swell from gentle piano-led Americana to roaring choruses and string sections. These deeply personal songs about love and death have reduced audiences to hushed silence, even tears. Despite being under the radar in their hometown and only releasing one low-key EP, they have found champions at BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 and have played in Europe to large, sold out audiences. The band’s use of choirs and a colliery brass band gives them a distinctly northern sound, but singer Rob Goodwin’s deep, painstaking baritone sounds more like a distant relation of Johnny Cash than anything from the English North West.
Together since 2010, The Slow Show had only played a few gigs before landing their first big break the following year when they were picked by BBC Introducing to support Elbow on BBC Radio 2 Live In Concert at Manchester Cathedral. That led to another breakthrough when Dermot O’Leary’s producer heard the broadcast and asked the band to play on a session on his radio show. In turn, a European agent heard them and asked them to play some unlikely dates abroad. Thus, a band who had barely played a note in their hometown found themselves suddenly unveiling all in European cities such as Zurich and Dresden.
In March 2015, The Slow Show will release their startlingly accomplished debut album White Water. Recorded over the past year in Blueprint studios in Manchester, the album will be the first UK release on German label Haldern Pop Recordings, the label formed by the team behind the successful Haldern Pop Festival.
Recording the album has been slow and steady for financial as well as artistic reasons. As Rob explains, “Every time we wanted a string section, we had to save up”, wryly adding that getting the 30-piece brass Glossop Old Band into a studio presented various logistical difficulties. However, they were determined that such exquisitely personal songs could be presented as perfectly as possible.
Indeed, the songs on White Water are deeply intimate, yet with themes that strike a universal chord. The bleakly, brilliantly anthemic Brother – the band’s sole release to date – was inspired by a conversation Rob had with his grandfather, who revealed that in his teens he’d lost his 16-year old brother to cancer, the “saddest moment in my life.” Rob found himself being so moved by this story that the beautifully wistful words – “Let’s go back to football fields and backyard alleyways, before God let you down, boy, and took you away” – just poured out of him.
Another song, Bloodline, is about an adopted family member who went searching for her roots. Augustine is another song about a last goodbye and the stunningly melancholy Bad Day is self-explanatory, although the forthcoming single Dresden (and the “dark tales from the Dresden dens”) has been inspired by their European adventures. There is the deeply affecting God Only Knows (not a Beach Boys cover), which utilizes the brass section for maximum emotional impact and is described by Rob as “a song about growing old with the people you love.”
Throughout White Water, the words are delivered with tenderness, care and empathy. As Paul Weller’s drummer Steve White – a vociferous champion – tells it, The Slow Show are “Manchester’s finest new export: music for the heart and soul.”
24.04.2015 | Amsterdam (NL) | London Calling
19.05.2015 | Leuven (BE) | Depot
20.05.2015 | Nijmegen (NL) | Merlyn
21.05.2015 | Cologne (DE) | Luxor
22.05.2015 | Haldern (DE) | Haldern Pop Bar
23.05.2015 | Dortmund (DE) | Way Back When Festival
24.05.2015 | Beverungen (DE) | Orange Blossom Festival
25.05.2015 | Hamburg (DE) | Prinzenbar
26.05.2015 | Berlin (DE) | Privatclub
27.05.2015 | Dresden (DE) | Beatpol
28.05.2015 | Vienna (AT) | Chelsea
29.05.2015 | Munich (DE) | Strom
30.05.2015 | Düdingen (CH) | Bad Bonn Kilbi
31.05.2015 | Zürich (CH) | Papiersaal
01.06.2015 | Esch-sur-Alzette (LU) | Rockhal
03.06.2015 | Glasgow (UK) | Broadcast
04.06.2015 | Leeds (UK) | The Brudenell Social Club
05.06.2015 | Nottingham (UK) | The Bodega
06.06.2015 | London (UK) | Bush Hall
07.06.2015 | Bristol (UK) | The Louisiana
08.06.2015 | Manchester (UK) | Gorilla