My Bloody Valentine fans have got to be amongst the most patient in the world. Their last album came out in 1991. That was 22 years ago. That is longer than some of their fans have been alive. To be fair to them Loveless is a work of genius and if it has taken them over two decades to recreate even one iota of their past efforts then we can begin to understand where people’s staying power comes from.
Whether they manage to create that of course, remains to be seen, as their forthcoming record feels a little less than forthcoming. Even this evening as we file into the unfamiliar but rather Troxy like Electric Brixton we are given but a morsel of the new, and Kevin Shields gently goading opening remark to a heckler that the new album will be out in “2 or 3 days.”
The morsel in question is known only to us as ‘Rough Song’. It is the song they choose to open the set with. A bold move and perhaps one that would have paid off more if the sound wasn’t so muddled. It is a boring complaint I know. It is just as boring for me to have to say it as it is for you to have to read it but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is true. Everyone here tonight knows it. The shifting glances. The fleeting (to steal an analogy from a friend) Emperor’s New Clothes moment where you are wondering if you’re the only one hearing what you’re hearing. Are you alone in your frustrations? Can everyone else actually hear the vocals? No. No they can’t. Is this supposed to be an instrumental song? No. No it isn’t. But ignoring the fact that we can’t hear Bilinda Butcher’s voice we focus on what we’re left with, and what My Bloody Valentine do best, make noise.
Built around a kind of hollow, bounding rhythm and scattered guitar loop, the debut airing of their first new composition in over 20 years is hardly the most inspiring moment in rock and roll history. But then, it is difficult to really explain why we would have expected anything else. Even regardless of the fact this is a warm up show, designed to iron out the kinks, My Bloody Valentine hardly have a track record of undertaking the most technically proficient outings. The sound desk eventually half catches up with itself around ‘Cigarette In Your Bed’, sadly leaving unfulfilled versions of ‘Honey Power’ and ‘You Never Should’ in its wake. A rare airing of the You Made Me Realise EP track brings the disorientating levels of noise promised and warned against in the Electric’s hallway and the myth of My Bloody Valentine’s vomit inducing, glass smashing decibel levels.
As we watch portions of the crowd swell with the swirling facets of ‘Thorn’ and the perfectly psychedelic visuals, we can’t help but cast our minds back to an article we’d published earlier in the day about 10 fictional bands we wished were real because it included Disaster Area, the loudest band in the galaxy. And while Hotblack Desiato Kevin Shields ain’t, we have to smile at the fact this is probably the closest we’ll ever be to getting our wish. ‘To Here Knows When’ and ‘Soon’ are beyond blistering highlights, enveloping your senses and invading your personal space. No matter how much you adjust those cheap foam ear plugs the distorted ravaging, pitch bending guitars will consume you. You are powerless to resist.
Ending their set as they always do on ‘You Made Me Realise’ the vocals still find themselves way too low in the mix and the guitars way too high. It’s ‘holocaust’ section, which in onslaughts of old lasted between 30 and 40 minutes, tonight only clocks in around the 5 minute mark, in a more subdued manner than we had hoped. But then, as I mentioned earlier, it is very difficult to explain what we hoped for going in to the Electric and it would have been pretty ludicrous to have expected it anyway. So rather, we’ll focus on what we actually got which was a largely inaudible fairly underwhelming outing that eventually morphed into an inaudible yet mesmerising reaffirmation that my god, My Bloody Valentine are back and we’re still perfectly happy to wait, patiently.
I Only Said
When You Sleep
You Never Should
Cigarette In Your Bed
Come In Alone
Nothing Much To Lose
To Here Knows When
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise