I had the absolute pleasure of watching My Bloody Valentine in concert last night, at Manchester Apollo (always a great live venue). MBV’s return, with a new studio album (their first for 22 years) cunningly entitled MBV, was one of the nicest music surprises of the year alongside Bowie’s re-emergence. Lead guitarist and song writer Kevin Shields had finally pulled some new material out of the bag, and I’m glad to say it’s great. Not a radical departure from what they were doing before, more a logical extension of it.
The band became one of the pioneers of what was called ‘shoegazing’ (named after the way the band would move on stage, concerned with guitar effects pedals and the like, and not the way the band’s fans danced, although you can see why people might have thought the latter). Their muffled wall of sound style was rather like a comforting indie blanket, and their second album Loveless (1991) is an old favourite. I can’t tell a word that’s being sung as the vocals are buried under a mix which emphasises the guitar and drums, but that never mattered as the overall effect was so oddly tuneful. I say oddly tuneful, because on first listen My Bloody Valentine were a right turn off; I just didn’t get it. However, after a few listens Loveless revealed itself to be a thing of beauty.
However, like The Velvet Underground before them, MBV are not a band to approach lightly in a live situation. While, like The Velvets, they don’t actually all-out ‘rock’, they are VERY BLOODY LOUD. I was sat on the upper circles, some way from the stage, and if it hadn’t been for a mate’s advice to take ear plugs I might have gone the way of that bloke with the exploding head in Scanners. Well, alright, I exaggerate, obviously, but you get the idea. MBV can be like a throbbing potent wall of sound; but as long as you’re prepared for that you can settle back and let their dream like (but never quiet) brand of indie rock take you where it wants.
Still wonderfully unique, and just as welcome in 2013 than they were in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Just don’t stand right next to the speakers. And if you’re new to them, be sure not to confuse them with Bullet for my Valentine either. God forbid!