If you thought rock was dead, think again. Slow, as you may know, were the marquee act on the mighty Zulu Records’ roster in the ‘80s, along with bands like Go Four 3, Enigmas, Knock Down Ginger and Daytona. They famously broke up after Expo ‘86 and have been missed ever since. Tales of their legendary talent, charisma and yes, notoriety, have kept the fire burning. So when they emerged again from the tall grass in December 2017, it was to an audible rustle of excitement and anticipation.
Slow really know how to set the scene. This was one of ten sequential nights they played upstairs at the Penthouse, in a room very reminiscent of the Seymour Street Arts Club Lounge. Walking into the intimate space, we arrived to a friendly bar at the back and just a mic set up in the front area of the room. Tickets were limited to 60 a night, so the place was packed out, although it felt like the band was performing just for you. I’d seen Slow play downstairs once, in the late ‘80s when my Hip Type bandmate Tracy and I arrived in velvet outfits we’d just brought back from London.
The evening began with a short intro to the historic club from Aaron Chapman, author of Liquor, Lust and the Law followed by an excellent set of boogie-woogie piano from Mike Van Eyes — the perfect lead-up to Slow.
The band emerged from the back and walked through the crowd to the stage, picked up their instruments and began with a playfully muscular medley, taking us back to their days as SISU gigging with Agent Orange at Stalag 13. Snippets of the Yardbirds’ “Think About It,” “We Want Him Crucified” from Jesus Christ Superstar, the original Spiderman theme, “Miserlou,” “Outer Limits” and Link Wray’s “Black Widow” all ran seamlessly together. Then Tom sauntered on stage and “Bad Man” rolled over the audience like a sonic wave.
Make no mistake: This is no nostalgia act. Slow Mach 2 is all original members and hitting a brand new stride. Tom has grown into that big voice of his and the new songs are some of their best yet; “Asphalt Plain” and “Polaroid Queen,” to name two. Now recording with producer Dave Ogilvie, the band is super-tight, agile, cerebral, powerful and finally together once again. They broke the circle, but they’re back. Like battle-hardened brothers, Slow realized their strength lies in the whole and that each one of them is indispensable. If the gods of rock are listening, these guys are gonna be huge. Hold your breath.
Back to the show. There was no encore. Slow left the stage the way they arrived, through the audience, to back slaps that told, by the sweatiness of their landing, that they’d put every particle of their energy into the performance. This Vancouver run was clearly the warm-up for their new record and tour-to-come. Lucky us!