Words by: Matt Newby
My Bloody Valentine :: 06.20.08 :: Camden Roundhouse :: London, England
There is a level of mystique surrounding the sound My Bloody Valentine synthesized over a decade ago. It's hard to unravel the mysteries behind the four-piece, and how they constructed veracity and creativity alongside moments of warmth and insanity in such a short space of time. In swift order, they mastered three albums and several EP's, defining themselves in musical folklore as one of the most influential and expressive bands of the modern era.
My Bloody Valentine has been hidden away since they split in 1991 shortly after the release of their masterpiece, Loveless, and their departure from Creation Records. MBV broke boundaries in their heyday with glimmering undercurrents of melody swimming in cyclones of distortion and tremolo, all the while remaining unpretentious. Their performances were motionless, crushing onslaughts of distortion and ferocity merged with honey sweet melodies on the grandest scales of volume. The fusion of sound pioneered by Kevin Shields and his cohorts established them as a formidable live band of immense perfection, and their devotees can't help but feel that it all ended too soon. The past decade has been relatively stale regarding the future of My Bloody Valentine. Rumours and message board posts about potential concerts and reissues have provided a forum for passionate speculation surrounding the reunion of the shoegaze architects. Though initially deemed too good to be true, news came through that the "new" material had been recorded, only to discover that it traveled no further than the dusty shelves of the band's homemade studio space. Even though the material never blossomed it provided fans with a glimmer of hope that a new chapter would one day be added to the My Bloody Valentine biography.
The 21st Century thus far has been filled with gig listings for the revival of long dead bands who have put aside "musical differences," repaired broken bridges and returned to the live circuit including Led Zeppelin, Jesus and Mary Chain and Swervedriver, to name a few. This climate has provided the right time and place for My Bloody Valentine to slot into the reunion tour calendar to showcase their talents once again. This next chapter was announced in 2007 following an interview in Vice Magazine's Soft Focus (watch it here) outlining that they would start again where they left off and bring the white noise to a three-night run at the Camden Roundhouse in the summer of 2008. For those who caught the live display in the '90s and the fan base that followed, this "reunion to end all reunions" was an event not to be missed.
Noise warnings, complimentary audio armor and piles of amplification greeted the audience on entering the former engine shed. These were all signs that the band had not mellowed over time, thus confirming Kevin Shields' assurance that My Bloody Valentine was not planning on breaking the audience in gently. No waiting around and no introduction were required as they confidently stepped out from the wilderness onto a stage framed by an ambiguous visual backdrop and launched into a searing bombardment of thunderous noise in the form of "Only Shallow," followed by "When You Sleep." Singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher's vacant expression and distant vocals interwoven into the shrieking tenderness of "I Only Said" presented a lighter touch, which proved short lived when it was shattered by Ó Cíosóig's opening drumming for "Nothing Much To Loose."
| Crowd reaction to show closer "You Made Me Realise"|
06.20 :: London by Dan
The performance effortlessly got louder and louder as each song surpassed the last, pushing toward the threshold of audio tolerance. Increasingly, audience members were undressed of their macho resistance to the mélange of feedback and distortion, reaching for earplugs as the waves circulated around the Roundhouse. The storm of sound became recognizable during "Soon," as Shields' glide technique glistened, lifting the audience to a dance floor of bliss. In what seemed to be the proverbial calm before the storm, the reworked live ending of "You Made Me Realise" provided the platform for the infamous My Bloody Valentine endgame, branded "the holocaust." The 20-minute barrage of sound was a tour de force of no holds barred destruction. The improvised and inventive noise rampage reached a deafening 128 decibels (soundboard check), a level matching the volume of a Concorde during takeoff, the visceral wall of sound paralyzing the audience with a curious mixture of torture and aural captivation.
The show was a test of endurance, a concoction of sculpted sound and an experience like no other. No encores were needed as very little could follow the 20-minute free noise tsunami that left ears ringing like a bell tower and a feeling of astonishment. My Bloody Valentine has well and truly returned as if the 16-year void was an inconsequential period in time. The spectacle at the Roundhouse was an affirming declaration that the band has stepped out and surpassed previous glories with a flawless performance.
06.20.08 :: Camden Roundhouse :: London
Only Shallow, When You Sleep, You Never Should, When You Wake, Lose My Breath,
I Only Said, Come In Alone, Thorn, Nothing Much To Lose, To Here Knows When, Slow, Blown A Wish, Soon, Feed Me With Your Kiss, Sueisfine, You Made Me Realise
My Bloody Valentine :: 6/20/08 - "When You Sleep":
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