Live Review: My Bloody Valentine @ The Roundhouse

My Bloody Valentine\'s Kevin Shields (pic by me)

Ive seen Mogwai 32 times” starts a conversation pre-set in The Roundhouse. The chap who said it then proudly displayed to me his Mogwai tattoo and we discussed the potential for this coming October’s ATP gig to be great. There is some sort of kudos that goes along with seeing Mogwai live, a renown for being loud…

The air of expectancy in the Roundhouse is palpable. This is after all, My Bloody Valentine’s first tour in so many years. Their first ‘proper’ gig that is, following the phony war of the previous week’s two ICA warm-up shows. There’s a generation gap in the audience, those old enough to remember the last time and those not. I’m firmly in the latter camp. There’s free earplugs on the door.

I decline. We miss Le Volume Courbe, one of Shields’ productees, and mingle into the audience about 15 minutes before the band come on. When they appear they utter not a word of greeting, not a shred of recognition towards the packed auditorium. There won’t be one word the entire performance. Not that anyone would have heard, for once the band start to whirl their twisted melodies you can’t hear the words in your own head, never mind those coming from the stage.

The music erupts from the stacks with a force and ferocity that completely belies the activity onstage, Shields and Butcher restrict themselves to about a metre square either side of the stage, whilst bassist Googe stands half-turned away from the crowd towards Ó Cíosóig’s kit. All seemingly completely oblivious to the waste they lay before them. Behind, psychedelic images and looped films play, transforming and shifting along with the music.

And all the time, the sonic maelstrom shifts and deepens, and inexplicably gets louder. The vocals are so low in the mix that I could only tell that they were being sung was by the movement of Shields’ lips. The noise seems to envelop the crowd, bouncing off the venue’s industrial walls. The physicality of the sound grows and grows, and by the time the instantly recognisable riff of Soon hurls into the room, it’s pushing me back onto my heels.

Crowd reaction to closer, You Made Me Realise

Photo: Dan’s Photos

I’ve never thought of sound on this level, sound you feel as well as hear. There’s people around me with not only earplugs, but fingers in their ears. Resisting the temptation to sully this sonic storm, I keep mine unbound, and gladly. Closer You Made Me Realise ratchets the intensity further, drowning us in a morass of feedback, glacially getting louder, heaping crescendo on crescendo until you feel the entire mound crash down. A tsunami of noise, shrieking, piercing, puncturing.

And then it finishes. No goodbyes, no encores. The crowd stands there, more through dumbstruck awe than expectancy. There’s a ringing in my ears that won’t disappear for a couple of days. I’m dazed but elegiac, unbelieving of what I’ve just experienced. I see the Mogwai fan again. “32 times” he says, “32 times and I’ve never heard anything like that.” I doubt we ever will.

Probable Setlist (thanks to
Only Shallow
When You Sleep
You Never Should
(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream
Lose My Breath
I Only Said
Come In Alone
Nothing Much To Lose
To Here Knows When
Blown A Wish
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise

My Bloody Valentine – Soon

A full recording of the show is discussed here, I don’t have the bandwidth to host it!

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One Response

  1. i cannot believe you watched that show without earplugs.

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