In a musical landscape where Rihanna seems to air a new track every 2 seconds, patience is not a virtue anymore but an extreme rarity. My Bloody Valentine fans are an uncommon species indeed; they’ve been waiting 22 years for a new record, and half a decade for a UK show. For us, this is our first My Bloody Valentine show ever, and we weren’t even a foetus when Loveless was released. It’s not such an overblown statement to say we’ve been waiting for this our entire lives.
There’s something near-mythical about the breed of band that produces a masterpiece before fading into obscurity — and let’s be clear, Loveless is among the most mind-blowing albums ever made. Blasting through the right speakers, it’s like being enveloped in a wall of beautifully devastating noise, rushing down an infinite tunnel towards shoegaze nirvana. It’s an album that reaches seemingly insurmountable levels. With whispers flying around the bar tonight, there’s a feeling of anticipation — but it’s unclear what exactly we’re expecting. We get a new song, and vague promises of an album (more on that later) and eventually, once we reach ‘Cigarette In Your Bed’ a third of the way through, we get our ears and minds blown.
With the help of an enterprising punter who has tweeted a shot of the set list resting on the sound-desk, we discover that the opening song is called ‘Rough Song’. It’s aptly named as Bilinda Butcher’s vocals drown beneath a sea of a rather underwhelming muddle of baggy, incoherent fuzz. It’s certainly not the idyllic magical resurrection we dreamt of, and to write like a moany reviewer on TripAdvisor for one moment, the sound in the venue is shocking — even for a warm-up show. People are poking at their cheap foam earplugs in the hope that they have them lodged in wrong, but nothing life-changing is unearthing itself.
‘Rough Song’ finishes to a room that doesn’t know whether to be confused or overjoyed, and Kevin Shields immediately announces that the new album will be out in “maybe two or three days”. As you’ll no doubt have seen, this rather vague, and gently goading remark has the ‘maybe’ scrubbed straight out, and is tweeted straight from the venue. In a couple of days we’ll know if Shields was serious; and he does appear to be in a right old piss for most of the show. He complains that he feels like he’s playing in a giant tunnel. ‘I Only Said’ is left behind in a particularly bad bout of sound, and ‘When You Sleep’ should be stunning, but the audience are having to sing “when I look at you” instead because we sure can’t hear anything resembling vocals coming from stage. Later on, Shields stops ‘To Here Knows When’ prematurely to talk to a sound tech — but does commendably restart the song, finally doing it justice. For once Shields is not simply being a moody git for the sake of it.
When the sound desk finally sort their act out a third of the way through, the show transforms from a near inaudible mess to that mesmerising wall of pure impenetrable sound that we’ve always dreamt of. ‘Only Shallow’ is so raw and perfect that we remember why we’ve waited 20-odd years for this. We’ve talked about the sound, the promised record, the new song — simply because it’s difficult to find words to do the rest of what we felt tonight justice. Even enlisting words like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious doesn’t help. You don’t actually need words, or even ears to understand the essence of My Bloody Valentine. All you need is a ribcage and a heart (and probably earplugs to be on the safe side). Whether the elusive next album comes out in 2 days or 20 years, we’re holding onto those earplugs, because, My Bloody Valentine are well and truly back.
Keep your eyes on My Bloody Valentine’s website [here] for news on the new album, which we’re currently still waiting on…
Words by El Hunt.