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.