Slowly Slowly – Gig Review 26th May @ The Forum, Melb VIC

Slowly Slowly
The Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
May 26th 2023
Support: Between You & Me and Clews

Losing your main support band a week out from embarking on your biggest headline tour to date is the last thing a band wants to face, so it’s safe to say that the Slowly Slowly camp were probably in full blown panic mode last week when Turnover had to withdraw from their tour due to circumstances out of their control.

With such a time crunch, the likelihood of securing a band to fill the spot would have been no easy feat, so the band opted to up the ante and double their set, including their latest album Daisy Chain in full and a wide range of cuts from their catalogue to full out the two hours extravaganza. Upon the announcement of this, my excitement levels for this show reached fever pitch immediately.

I’ll be honest, doors were at 6:30pm and Clews took the stage at 7pm so I must’ve gotten into the venue all of three minutes after they finished their set. They’re great and I was sad to miss their set but the show starting so early made it hard to make that happen. Next time.

Had the vocalist not announced that they were from right here in Melbourne, you could easily mistake Between You & Me for five spry pop punkers from California with their sound that would fit like a glove on any edition of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Smashing through a set that sounded straight out of the 2007 Warped Tour line-up, the band did a solid job of getting the crowd’s energy going for the main event.

They’re really great at what they do, but I’ve gotta say I was pretty bummed to hear their tracks doing a lot of work on the vocal front and the frontman could probably find better ways of connecting with the crowd than just repeatedly telling them to ‘get the fuck up.

I’ll just say it plainly because it has to be said, Slowly Slowly have come a long way over the last five years and it’s been a pleasure to see them grow and grow since the release of their remarkable 2018 album St Leonards. With that said, I was a bit nervous for the band signing themselves up for a two-hour set because filling out a performance like that isn’t an easy task, let alone keeping up the energy and engagement for that long in a room like The Forum. But damn, they brought their A-game, and it was clear from the first beat.

Coming out of the gate with the anthemic ‘Daisy Chain’, you could just see every member beaming with joy from the moment the curtain dropped to unveil them to the crowd. ‘Alchemy’, ‘Hold My Breath’ and ‘Turn It Around’ kept the energy high before the band dived deep into the vault with ‘PMTWGR’ featuring a wonderful guest spot from Tom of Melbourne legends Ceres.

The first section of the band’s set closed out with the incredibly powerful ‘Race Car Blues’ before the band exited the stage, only for frontman Benjamin Stewart to appear behind the sound desk almost immediately. Stewart treated the crowd to a wonderful trio of intimate ballads that offered a wonderful palette cleanse to the high-energy portion of the set that had preceded. Not many vocalists can throw themselves into the middle of 2000 people like that and captivate a crowd, but Stewart made it look like a breeze.

The full band returned to the stage with a monstrous trio of ‘Creature of Habit’, ‘God’ and ‘Ten Leaf Clover’. Each song made the crowd erupt with triumphant sing-a-longs and it was a marvel to see. At this point, I couldn’t help but think ‘this band has so many great songs’ because we’d just crossed over the 60-minute mark and they hadn’t even gotten to many of their hits yet.

The third portion of the set continued with some classic cuts (‘19’, ‘Smile Lines’) intertwined with more new tracks from Daisy Chain before the last five tracks set in and took the show up a notch.

Let’s be honest, most bands usually pull a 60–75-minute set when they’re headlining with maybe one more for an encore track if you’re lucky. At this point, Slowly Slowly were 90 minutes in and it still didn’t feel like the set had peaked or that the energy was fading at all. Cue a well-placed cover of the blink-182 classic ‘I Miss You’ to lighten the mood a little before the band launched into ‘Jellyfish’ and had everyone in the room dancing and singing along with joyful glee.

Slowly Slowly closed out the night with ‘Nothing On’, ‘Creature of Habit Pt.2’ and the exemplary ‘Blueprint’, which in my opinion is one of the best Australian songs of recent years. Bold to leave their two highest-energy songs to last, but the band were still firing on all cylinders, and it rounded out the show on an enormous high.

Enormous credit to every single member of the band for giving it their all from the first beat to the very last, but special kudos has to go to Ben Stewart because he was absolutely belting for two hours and never missed a single goddamn note. There’s also a lot to be said about his ability to tell stories through their songs, which I think is a huge part of why in a room of 2000+ people, everyone felt a connection to him and the rest of the band.

I went into this show very much a casual fan of Slowly Slowly and I walked out of the Forum converted into a full-blown mega fan who had just seen a world-class performance from a band with nothing but a brighter future ahead of them.

Review by Nicholas Simonsen @blackechomusic