Last night John and I joined friends in NYC to see My Bloody Valentine live in concert at Roseland Ballroom.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with them - but for the few who might not be, My Bloody Valentine are an alternative rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1984 and predominantly based in London. The founding members were guitarist/singer Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. The band's lineup during their heyday also included singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe.
My Bloody Valentine's use of distortion, pitch bending, and digital reverb placed them as part of the shoegazing genre among other bands like Ride and Lush. Their 1991 album Loveless took two years to make due to funding problems, but once released it was critically acclaimed. Following Loveless, MBV became inactive, with Shields discarding several albums' worth of follow-up material. In 2007, Shields announced that the band had reunited and was recording new material.
Anyway - the reunion show was ... truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Upon entering Roseland Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan, you are given complementary earplugs and encouraged to use them. Only the foolish refuse to shove them into their canals - you can spot those folks as they will be walking around completely deaf with nothing but ringing in their ears!
MBV are known for pushing the boundaries of volume - supposedly they blew the PA system on Monday night as they wailed out their final song - but last night was stellar! Although I've no video from the night personally - this was shot from Monday's show - but the camera is pretty much in the same spot we were last night - just to give you a taste of the show itself:
What has made MBV an incredible band is their use of sound and (more importantly) volume when creating music... from layer upon layer of guitars and drums and such - MBV creates a wall of sound that continues to grow during their performance ... it's like a musical typhoon and as they get to their final number (the only warning is a quick "thanks for coming" before it starts) the wall of sound towers over you and envelops your senses; from a literally ground-shaking bass line to a crashing wave of guitars and noise, MBV takes you to the edge of an aural wormhole, then kicks you over and down you go!
The final onslaught of sound lasted about 15 minutes - nonstop. Like a car wreck, you cannot move - you cannot turn away - you cannot escape this musical madness that is My Bloody Valentine.
Cracking well over 100 decibels, this band live is not for the fainthearted - I cannot imagine NOT having earplugs while watching this band - and naturally this amateur video's sound does NOT do the experience justice ... but man, having seen hundreds upon hundreds of live concert over the past 30 years, last night was easily one of my favorite concert experiences so far!