My Bloody Valentine: London – live review


My Bloody Valentine
Electric Brixton, London
27 January 2013

My Bloody Valentine return to the stage with a ‘physically shattering’ show and promise of the long-awaited new album release being just days away.

The news you’re waking up to is that the new My Bloody Valentine album “might be out in two or three days.”

Literally seconds after those eight words in a rare moment of audience engagement had left the mouth of Kevin Shields, the Twittersphere erupted with glee. The frontman was responding to a heckler at last night’s (27 January) London show, which served as a warm-up for a tour which will take them across Japan, Australia, the UK and eventually to Coachella and Primavera Sound.


Whether or not the release date is to be believed (it was, lest we forget, also promised before the end of 2012), it would somehow be fitting to their own mythology if, as with Bowie’s latest, following years of speculation, it just turned up online with little fanfare, by-passing advertising campaigns and avoiding leaked MP3s. No more stories of endless abandoned recording sessions, erecting tents in studios and taking three weeks to record a tambourine, as there was with its predecessor.

They open tonight with a hint of what may come in the form of a new track (listed as Rough Song on the setlist) featuring a woozy Loveless-like melody, a guitar riff not unlike Wrote For Luck by the Happy Mondays (though others have suggested a similarity to the Milltown Brothers) and some indecipherable lyrics from Bilinda Butcher. Sadly, the singing remains buried in the maelstrom for the whole of their set, as voices are reduced to whispers and hums, even when you tentatively remove a regulatory earplug.

The gaps between songs are frustrating and the audience at times seems surprisingly subdued. However, Thorn is positively brutal tonight with some Animalistic drumming and punishing, slashing riffs delivered at devastating volume. Those braving the mosh pit are thrown back to 1988 and the tsunami of piercing, destructive noise that Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. (Thurston Moore and J. Mascis are in the house tonight, indie star-spotters) did and continue to do so well. To Here Knows When is magnificent, complete with its familiarly disorientating, warped drone. Soon, meanwhile, still sounds otherworldly 23 years on.


“The holocaust” is curtailed to a measly five minutes tonight, but You Made Me Realise still breaks down into a face-melting, trouser-flapping finale of white noise that threatens to blow the minds of all present into oblivion. This is the band who once wanted their audience to be vomiting in pain and are said to have once entertained the idea of having electric fans blow amyl nitrate across the venue. The PA rumbles and crackles and your entire body shakes. They are physically shattering. The entire hall is bathed in bright white light. The psychedelic backdrop becomes a blur. Don’t fight it remember, feel it.

This Wednesday then, is it Kevin?

All words by Kevin Robinson. You can read more from Kevin on LTW here.


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7 comments on “My Bloody Valentine: London – live review”

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  1. I think you’ll find the audience were subdued because they were bored. Ridiculously bad sound (I don’t think I heard any vocals and mistook the 2nd and 3rd songs for new ones), a clearly annoyed Kevin and one actual new song (which sounded like a demo). Let’s hope their main tour is better than this. As for it being loud, it wasn’t. The (totally amazing) Roundhouse gigs were loud – their 1990 gigs were loud – I was very comfortable listening with no earplugs.

    I don’t think it was all their fault but calling the performance ‘physically shattering’ is a bit melodramatic. And ending with You Made Me Realise this time round is too obvious and naff – it’s like Radiohead encoring with Creep (which they don’t do as they’re not obvious and naff).

    I have no idea why they only played one new tune – they’ve had long enough (20 years???) to write and rehearse. I was really looking forward to checking out their new material.

    MBV are a brilliant band – on the evidence of the one new song they played I don’t hold out much hope for the new record – but seeing as they only managed one new song let’s see what the new record brings (if they ever release it).

    By MBV’s very very high standards this was an average gig.

    • This was MBV in brutal form, I’m glad the reviewer enjoyed the gig as much as me. I saw the Roundhouse gigs and the ATP ones too. This was by far the loudest of all of them – so it must depend where you stand. I was about 5 people back from the front on the left and there is no way on this earth that I would have listened without ear plugs. They made Metz sound like Michael Buble….it was sonic warfare and (as usual) clearly too much for some people.

      I don’t want over practiced nonsense or (god forbid) sheep like Radiohead fans praising every self indulgent crap thing Thom puts out) You Made Me Realise was trimmed to a fraction of previous versions an there was some hugely enjoyable noise in there.

      Q readers are never going to like MBV live……

      One new tune was one more than the apparently “totally amazing” Roundhouse gigs which had none (and were dwarfed by the ATP shows anyway)

      • Oh dear Racer X there’s always someone getting arsy and aggressive on the Internet isn’t there? Are you suggesting I read Q magazine? Personally I prefer Razzle.
        The general consensus (Radiohead fan or not) around the Internet is the sound was crap and the gig wasn’t a patch on the Roundhouse gigs. Or when I saw them in 91 for that matter. Of course you’re right, one new song is better than no new songs – but you’re easily pleased if you wait 4 years for an MBV gig and the best they can come up with on the night is the same set list and one new mediocre tune.
        I was standing 7 rows or so back on the left – I suggest you get your ears checked if you think it was as loud as the roundhouse. Whatever, hopefully they’ll sort it out at Hammersmith and give us some fresh material

    • Is the writer friendly with the band? Seriously, the real review of this gig is the comment above. I had the same experience with songs 2 and 3… I was really exited going there as my memories of two nights in a row at roundhouse came back to me, but this was not worth it, regardless of the fact that we were a “lucky” few to witness it.

  2. The vocals were way down in the mix… but they always are. That’s what they do. And it was louder than the average gig, but as the person above says no where near the ear-numbing levels of the Roundhouse shows in 2008. As to the “gaps between the songs [being] frustrating” it was a warm-up gig, so I think they can be forgiven for that!

  3. I was at the gig and apart from ‘Nothing Much To Lose’ it was a fucking shambles.

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