EXPECTATIONS of this show – one of legendarily loud and enigmatic Irish indie quartet My Bloody Valentine’s first UK dates in support of 22-years-in-coming new album mbv – towered as absurdly high as their famously fussy bandleader/guitarist Kevin Shields’s stack of amplifiers.
My Bloody Valentine
And yet like said record – the successor to 1991’s seminal Loveless – it just about lived up to its promise.
Anyone uninitiated to My Bloody Valentine’s brand of by-turns dreamy and nightmarish noise would have been within their rights to wonder what all the fuss was about. To the right and left respectively of drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig and bassist Debbie Googe, a typically sullen-looking Sheilds and guitarist/singer Bilinda Butcher dredged effects-swathed sounds from their vast array of trademark Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars, while whispering vocals so contrastingly quiet as to make you wonder whether their microphones were working.
But it’s this very peculiarity and boffin-like approach that makes My Bloody Valentine special. The swirling I Only Said felt something akin to music half-heard on the verge of sleep; the sickly melody of Come In Alone seemed to recreate the room-spinning sensation of a rush of nausea. You Made Me Realise’s furious clatter was split by a signature eardrum-vaporisingly nihilistic five minutes of one chord being churned repeatedly – effecting a sound and sensation akin to opening a car window on the motorway.
The new album’s best and final track, wonder 2, closed the show, as all four members strapped on Jaguar or Jazzmaster guitars – a sight so practically self-parodic it must have been intentional – to layer sweet cacophony over a hurtling drum and bass beat, before slipping off back into the shadows with a meek “thanks” from Shields.