My Bloody Valentine, The Roundhouse, London, June 2008
My Bloody Valentine were not on the mental wish list because they were supposedly gone, broken up, deep sixed… and not coming back, right? Mythically consigned to history as a bright, blow torch flame of layered guitar god-like genius, the tales were epic. Maestro Kevin Shields was an almost reclusive, and figure of legend. They were the band which nearly bankrupted Creation Records, the bill for mixing Loveless getting out of control. (As an aside, I used to work in Britannia Row in Islington, and the building is where some of Loveless was mixed). The volume at their live shows was earsplitting, maybe bowel voiding. I was not going to miss this. It sold out instantly. I had to get tickets off some eBay scumbag tout - you pay up front months in advance, and HOPE the tickets will turn up – major gripe with online ticketing actually, real fans get screwed over. going into the gig, they were handing out ear plugs, which we (now with hindsight, stupidly) turned down. Not just because it would have made it more listenable, but also because I think Shields wanted you to wear them so you could hear what he wanted you to hear. And ‘feel’ the music. This was the loudest gig I have been to – only the second ever where you could actually discern your clothing moving as the sound travelled through the air (the other gig like that was On-U Sound’s Audio Active in Wellington nearly twenty years ago). Everything was turned up to eleven, and the kick drum was immense - almost too big, it dominated everything, especially when the beat was slower. (‘Only Shallow’). It was a fist being constantly bashed on a table top; through earplugs (or as it was, our hands) it dissipated into the mix a tad. The band were statue like. Were they even alive, or still in 90s stasis? It illustrated just how much effects play a part in this sound. If you want to see how ‘pedalled’ this music is look on YouTube for tutorials on how to replicate My Bloody Valentine’s sound - it is nuts to see how a simple strum can be delayed, reverbed, flanged, and back again to get something light years from how the player’s fingers touched the string. I guess this is where the attention to detail & madness creeps in. I think I really just watched to see what Shields was actually doing to create this noise, but he still did not seem to expend a lot of energy. The rest of the band were equally dormant. We were just left to wonder at teh sheer volume, and I think I ended up laughing a lot of the time at its sheer audacity. The kicker was the final track ‘You Made Me Realise’ which had a 20 minute patch of feedback at an earsplitting volume. At this point Fi and I did have to clutch our hands to our ears, only briefly removing them a few times to check it was all real, then just looking at each other, cracking up and mouthing “WTF?!”. ‘Cigarette in Your Bed’, ‘Soon’, ‘Only Shallow’, ‘To Here Knows When’, ‘Come In Alone’ - I never thought I would ever get a chance to hear this stuff live. So thanks, Saint Kevin. Stunning. Loveless is easily one of my favourite albums ever – my vinyl copy is still a treasured thing. To choose one song? I still think ‘Soon’ does it for me… from when indie and dance was crossing over all those years ago (I still have a 7 inch somewhere), and that man Weatherall first appeared on the remix scene.