The gig was on the 12th of March 2013 at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. My Bloody Valentine live isn't a gig, it's an experience that everyone should go through to completely change everything they know about music.
Live At Hammersmith Apollo, London, March 12, 2013
Tombe, on march 15, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's official - they're back. The seminal noise-rock band behind 1991's Loveless, one of the most important and influential Indie albums of all time, have spent the last 22 years being on hiatus, splitting up, saying they're definitely almost finished with the new album, then all of a sudden a few weeks ago it happened. "m b v", My Bloody Valentine's third album, was released on their website. A few weeks later a handful of tour dates was announced. Since I discovered My Bloody Valentine 7 or 8 years ago I have been dying to see them live, and now it was happening.
They step onto the stage without any fanfare. Singer/guitarists Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher strap on Jazzmasters and stand in front of imposing walls of amps and the band launch into "I Only Said" from "Loveless". As soon as it kicks in, you could only be watching one band. The first thing that hits you is not just the volume but the sheer sonic power - it's as if every single frequency that exists has been fed through a fuzz pedal. Shields coaxes undulating, growling walls of noise from abused Jazzmasters and Jaguars fed through myriad fuzz pedals, whilst Butcher's trashy rhythm guitar anchors it to the ground. Behind it, bassist Debbie Googe and drummer Colm O'Ciosoig lock into muscular, tight grooves on songs such as "Loveless"' classic "Soon" and new album highlight "New You". Crucially, no element of the sound is ever lost or out of place - the rhythm section sound like they're blasting out of the PA at an acid house club, Shields' and Butcher's guitars spend an hour and a half sounding like nothing that has ever been heard before and their vocals are as low in the mix as they are on the band's recorded output - ghostly, gentle, another texture beneath the noise. And yet, on the rare occasions when Shields plays something approaching a lead line or solo on tracks such as "Come In Alone" or "She Found Now", it cuts through as clear as a bell.
Then came the bit everyone anticipates as "You Made Me Realise" starts up. For 2 minutes it's a wiry post-punk rocker, before we get to what is usually a straightforward instrumental bridge. Live, it's the point where MBV decide to see just how much noise everyone can take. Guitars are mutated into a deafening wall of white noise, the drums reduced to a constantly rumbling bass drum and crashing cymbals. It's like an aeroplane taking off over your head, frozen in time for 10 minutes, completely devoid of melody, rhythm or structure, just nothing but ear-splitting noise, the sheer force of the soundwaves shaking every bone in your body. Then suddenly, after what is 10 minutes but feels like a lifetime, without so much as a count-in, they launch straight back into the third verse of the song and wrap it up. Normally, that would be enough, but they decide we can take more. "Wonder 2", the closing cut of new album "m b v", sees all four members strapping on guitars and playing over a drum 'n' bass beat mutated by whooshing flangers that pelts around the hall, elevating further and further upwards until it's over as soon as it began. // 10
Perfomance: It's fair to say that there was not a huge legion of new fans in the crowd that were unaware of the band before m b v was released. The setlist, then, was a perfect balance - a few choice cuts from the new album, a healthy dose of "Loveless", a handful of tracks from debut album "Isn't Anything" and a number off their EPs released between their first two albums, home to some of their finest work, from the upbeat, dancey "Thorn" to the unashamed "Rocker Honey Power" to the woozy, psychedelic "Cigarette In Your Bed". Sometimes, the standout ballad from "Loveless", was the only notable exception, but taking things down in terms of volume and dynamics would have just been out of place. The new material slots in place perfectly with the old - it's like they've never been away...
Watching the band members on stage is almost like watching each member's role being given a personality. Centre stage, Colm O'Ciosoig assaults his drumkit as if waging a one-man war against percussion instruments whilst Debbie Googe stands just in front of him, turned to one side, Jaguar bass strung low and rocking backwards and forwards with the groove as she glues the music together - surely one of music's most underrated bassists. Kevin Shields stands at the mic when singing, but other than that retreats back to his bank of amplifiers, whilst Bilinda Butcher is motionless, ghost-like, as she imperceptibly strums her guitar and sings ethereally. But they're not about on-stage histrionics - as every type of noise imaginable assaults your ears and psychedelic visuals flash across the backdrop, your eyes are rarely on what's happening on stage. // 10
Impression: The gig was on the 12th of March 2013 at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. My Bloody Valentine live isn't a gig, it's an experience that everyone should go through to completely change everything they know about music. From acid-house grooves buried under walls of fuzzy guitars, to a woozy and psychedelic "To Here Knows Where" lulling you out of your plane of existence, to the extended burst of noise in the middle of "You Made Me Realise", it's quite clear that the only other time anyone there has experienced anything like this is at another MBV gig. Credited with inventing the term 'shoegazing', they have stepped away from the self-celebratory scene and derogatory term that they spawned and become something else entirely. They're not a band trying to prove anything, or trading on past glories, they're just getting on with being My Bloody Valentine. Everybody at the gig had been bombarded with sound and reacted to it in different ways, particularly during "YMMR"'s noise section, but had all had an unforgettable night. As my friend put it, there's nothing quite like watching My Bloody Valentine with a load of other people who love My Bloody Valentine.
Live At Hammersmith Apollo, London, March 12, 2013
GezzyDiversion, on march 15, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound in the Hammersmith Apollo can be phenomenal if the engineer knows what he is doing and My Bloody Valentine sounded incredible tonight. The gliding blend of Kevin's and Bilinda's Fender Jaguars blasting through the house glued with the solid bass and drum rhythm section from Debbie and Colm respectively. MBV are definitely a band were earplugs shouldn't be given a second thought, they are a necessity and the gig experience is made more enjoyable by being able to hear the minute details in the mix. // 9
Perfomance: The setlist was solidly packed with material from the EP's and all three albums: the punky "Isn't Anything", the seminal shoegaze wetdream "Loveless" and this years amazing long awaited release... "m b v". The material sounds more fresh and raw live, as the band have always played them which provides a refreshing spin on classics like "Only Shallow" and "Come In Alone".
The new songs were received with great praise especially the mesmerizing "Only Tomorrow" from the latest album, backed by stunning visuals from the projector which is the centre point for the bands live show. No special effects to distract from the audience from the music.
This evening we were treated to an abridged version of the "Holocaust" section only lasting 10 minutes, but was enough to wonder if you would hear chirping birds in the morning again. But the beauty of this is when the back spontaneously launch back into the chorus of "You Made Me Realise" making it the best thing you've ever heard after some serious sonic punishing.
01. I Only Said
02. When You Sleep
03. New You
04. You Never Should
05. Honey Power
06. Cigarette In Your Bed
07. Only Tomorrow
08. Come In Alone
09. Only Shallow
11. Nothing Much To Lose
12. To Here Knows When
15. Feed Me With Your Kiss
16. You Made Me Realise
17. Wonder 2 // 9
Impression: England, London, Hammersmith Apollo - 12th March 2013. Support was provided by the usual Le Volume Courbe. I personally am not a fan of their music but they gently broke the audience in with their soft folk rock. Tickets for this short UK tour were £25 + £9.50 in booking fees, not that happy with the extra fees but the overall cost would have been a lot worse.
The gig overall was fantastic and has always been a fantasy of mine to someday see them live, as any fan of this band will tell you. If money wasn't a problem I would buy a ticket for the second night as well, due to the unpredictable nature of this group, it could well be another 5 years before they tour again. Catch them while you can! // 9