Gig Reviews

My Bloody Valentine – Meltdown Festival, London – Live Review

My Bloody Valentine – Meltdown Festival, London – Live Review by Killian Laher

My Bloody Valentine performed in the salubrious Royal Festival Hall in London as part of the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown Festival.  For the uninitiated, earplugs were handed out beforehand as Kevin Shields and co are one of the loudest bands out there.

American electronic band The Soft Moon opened.  The trio, fronted by the diminutive Luis Vasquez, produced a monolithic, industrial goth sound on songs like Black and Circles.  The admirable racket was enhanced by strobe lighting,  giving the whole thing an almost horror film feel.  Held together by an impressive bass player, songs like Dead Love and Far draw heavily on Faith-era Cure.  Vasquez leant low down for dramatic keyboard stabs, this and some loose dance moves showed a flair for dramatics.

On both Circles and Wrong, he upturned what looked like a massive metallic bin and bashed it with drumsticks, the latter featuring all three members bashing with sticks.  Yet if you like a bit of Sisters of Mercy with your sense of dread, it worked, though there was no real variation across the set.

My Bloody Valentine appeared on stage to a rapturous reception.  Opening with I Only Said and When You Sleep, even earplugs couldn’t block out the glorious noise.  Guitars took centre stage, with Kevin Shields’ and an impossibly young looking Bilinda Butcher’s vocals barely audible over the searing noise.  Debbi Googe’s propulsive bass playing impressed and the band even tried a new song.  It wasn’t all intense noise, New You showed their mellower side and Cigarette In Your Bed saw Shields produce an acoustic guitar.  Played at deafening volume.  Some psychedelic-style projections accompanied this slab of noise.

Newer songs like Only Tomorrow and Who Sees You (off 2013’s mbv album) packed as much punch as anything else played.  Yet it was the older, Loveless-era songs most were here for.  Despite misfiring on the opening few bars, Come In Alone and a pounding Only Shallow sounded strong and powerful 27 years on.  To Here Knows When, played practically solo by Shields was far noisier than the recorded version.

The imperious riffs of Soon were a definite highpoint, while Wonder 2 saw Colm O’Ciosog abandon his drums to join in a guitar noise that completely drowned out the programmed, jungle beats.  A thrashing version of Feed Me With Your Kiss preceded the thrilling finale You Made Me Realise.  Pounding at their instruments, the band delivered the first two verses at breakneck speed before launching into ten minutes of noise.  With Googe and O’Ciosog banging the bejaysus out of their instruments and Butcher and Shields creating monstrous feedback, all conducted by Shields who appeared to be trying different pedals in an attempt to get the precise level of noise.

There was no way they could follow that, and they didn’t.  Those who have seen My Bloody Valentine may quibble that there was little new (apart from one song).  But for fans of noisy rock they are still one of the more visceral experiences around.  With music that threatens to engulf you with its sheer power, the band are a unique experience.

Track List –

1. I Only Said
2. When You Sleep
3. New You
4. New song
5. You Never Should
6. Honeypower
7. Cigarette In Your Bed
8. Only Tomorrow
9. Come In Alone
10. Only Shallow
11. What You Want
12. Thorn
13. Nothing Much To Lose
14. Who Sees You
15. To Here Knows When
16. Slow
17. Soon
18. Wonder 2
19. Feed Me With Your Kiss
20. You Made Me Realise

Categories: Gig Reviews, Gigs, Header, Music

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