Monday 18th February @ Enmore Theatre
Firstly, it’s time to clear up an enormous understanding that I don’t personally understand, but apparently a lot of people confuse My Bloody Valentine with Bullet for My Valentine. Yes, both bands have the word valentine in them, but lots of bands share the same word. Little Red and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers both have the same word (It’s the word Red!) in their names, but people seem to be able to distinguish them. Anyway, this is the gig review of the 90’s shoegaze revolutionists, not the Welsh hardcore crew who spend as much time on their hair as they do their music. So, if you thought this was reviewing their Hi-Fi show, feel free to stop reading, as My Bloody Valentine are the exact opposite of Bullet for My Valentine. And much better.
Anyway, the support came from Melbourne guitar-whisperers The Morning After Girls. After a brief stint in New York, the Aussies are back playing hometown crowds. Despite having a pretty fantastic song set, and definite whirring mastery of songcraft, their performance lacked any memorable moments. Sure, it was jam packed with neo-psych genius, a buzzing floating chorus of perfectly executed waifing, however nothing that made the band jump out from the stage. It would be forgivable if the band were a relatively new act, but they’ve been around since 2003. Surely, that’s enough to give your live show a bit of oopmh, especially after culling it in the cut throat streets of hipster New York. Their doing their own headlining tour right now for fucks sake! The Morning After Girls remain a band good in sound, but I certainly wouldn’t be clawing for tickets to go see their show.
After a mediocre warm up act, the crowd were desperate for some satisfaction. After 22 years of silence, My Bloody Valentine, the shoegaze extraordinares, had abruptly announced a new third album, finally getting around the following up their sophomore masterpiece ‘Loveless’. For those who couldn’t make it to the sold out return of All Tomorrow’s Parties, the Enmore show was the only chance to see Kev Shields and Co. blow the skulls out of our heads.
First thought watching the band walk out: Fuck me, Kevin Shields is fat. Like, man boobs fat. That thought faded into obscurity however, as the opening chords of ‘I Only Said’ rumbled, soaring and falling like a broken hearted bird. It was a seriously beautiful thing to witness, the softness of delight contrasted with the crushing gore of the guitars. The sounds all clanged together, sounds resonating out of one of the 30-odd assorted amplifiers on stage. It became impossible to focus on the physical whims of the band when such beautiful music was thrust into one’s face from a few metres away.
It was just a hit fest of My Bloody Valentine, each song leading into the other, delving into the bands richly vibrant but limited catalogue. They stuck mostly to tracks off ‘Loveless’ with a few from their debut ‘Isn’t Anything’ thrown in to please. The offerings of their latest ‘MBV’ were limited, however that was granted considering it was only released a week, maybe two ago. ‘When You Sleep’ was an enchanting delectable piece of craftsmanship, expertly executed with the skills of Picasso crossed with Da Vinci, and ‘Only Shallow’ ‘fucking went off aye’ as the tradies are want to say. ‘Soon‘ was a gorgeous, clenching drifter and ‘Lose My Breath’ transported the self to the clouds for a floating, churlish time. Accompanying visuals were of utmost quality, a violent blend of deep reds, yellows, greens, blues and violets, all crashing together in a virus of passion and exaggerating the explosion of the music.
Although it pains me to say this, there were a few things that sucked. Namely, vocals. Seriously, what the fuck Kevin/Bilinda? Turn that shit up. Like, I get that the effect is to turn the vocals down to a barely audible whisper to incite a yearning passion and total depression in the listener, but that doesn’t work when audible whisper becomes non-existent mouthing. All that could be picked up over the vicious churning of music was the general flow and pace of the vocals patterns. It was redeemed by the awe inspiring focus of the music, and the gut wrenching volume, but vocals have always been, though not essential, quite a moving part of My Bloody Valentine songs. So yeah, I didn’t think i’d be attending an instrumental gig on Monday, but that’s what happened.
Also, ‘The Holocaust’ which is the nickname for the chasm-opening sounds that were brought forth during their closer. Interrupting a seizure inducing thrashing ‘You Made Me Realise‘ , there was a literal 10 minute break in which the band played….and played…and played. However, it was simply a more or less mono tonal block of noise, barely shifting and excruciatingly painful. No doubt it was expertly and casually executed on stage, and the first few minutes were jaw dropping…but ten minutes of it? It became unbearable. With no tension, or reasoning behind it, it simply became apocalyptically loud noise for the sake of apocalyptically loud noise, and caused both a divide in the crowd and a souring to the gig.
Though ‘The Holocaust’ was a dour note, experience the genius of My Bloody Valentine is one that can only be cherished. It is a delicious grasping of inventive, experimental and soul-enveloping music. It swallows you whole, encapsulates the body, gives you a hug, then boots you back onto the street like the cold, worthless creature you are. And you feel honoured to be given the time of day by it’s holiness. Yep, My Bloody Valentine are that good. Better than Bullet for My Valentine anyway.