Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Bloody Valentine, Glasgow Barrowlands, 3rd July

Shields-spotting used to be fun. Tracking down those remixes on the off chance that he might pull out another ‘If They Move, Kill ’Em’, at least. Another Loveless has been off the cards for some time now. Maybe it’s unimaginative to want one. And maybe Kevin has taken the clamour (is there still a clamour?) a little too literally, given his recent-ish Soft Focus interview, during which he promised a new My Bloody Valentine record made up of various failed sessions from the ’90s. We won’t even get that, don’t kid yourself. But don’t listen to me grumble. I didn’t go to see them the other week, for whatever reason, though I love the records more than most anything. Chris did, and emailed to tell me what I’d missed:

They were incredibly loud. It’s difficult to grasp, or even rationalise, in terms of normal concert sound, but there was a tangible difference between this sort of loudness, and, say, an Acid Mothers Temple-type loudness; and it related to the frequencies that MBV were playing with, I think. Although the mix was very well balanced, there were two dominant features: Colm’s drumming, which is pretty snare heavy at the best of times (and live he beats them like a motherfucker); and a fuck-of-a-lot-of-fuzz. So they weren’t just loud because they had a PA that a small country could take to war; they were loud because the frequencies they were playing with are in a range that the human ear finds difficult to tolerate. Over a 90 minute set, the perception was of increasing volume, even although this was not the case, because after about 30 minutes most eardrums in the room had been beaten into a whimpering, bruised submission. The earplugs were a great piece of PR, for sure, but, actually, when I looked around after an hour or so, 85% of the audience seemed to be wearing them. Perversely, as an experience, it brought to mind one of Kawabata’s quieter drone records, where pitch changes unsettle, rather than the more obviously loud AMT records.

And it was fucking great. I grinned like a chimp thoughout. And jumped up and down, and pointed and grinned, and whacked my chum Neil in the arm repeatedly, all the time gooning at the hot 32 year old girl in front of me, imagining we were fifteen years old and she was coming round to mine, later, to be blown away by my Royal Trux records. And as absurd as that was – I was only three pints of Barras-issue lager to the worse – it was no more ridiculous than seeing, finally seeing, MBV, and in the Barrowlands of all places.

I’m sure I must have told you, in maudlin times, that I was supposed to go and see them, there, on the 15th of December 1992, supported by Teenage Fanclub, but I didn’t make it. And yet here I was, in that same hall, where 6 years later I’d be slain by Ian Svenonius, where 10 years later I’d give Iggy a slap on the back, and here was Norman Blake at the bar beside me; and there was ‘Sueisfine’, and I’d forgotten – perhaps hadn’t realised – how much I love that song; and there was Neil – not coping with ageing, or hearing those songs, or having his expectations met – welling up beside me. And there was me thinking that I’ll take ageing (and attendant deafness) if all my regrets resolve themselves like this.

Even the holocaust – dull as it was – worked, in its own way. At the end of the sludge, the final verse of ‘You Made Me Realise’ kicked in, and it was absolutely fucking beautiful. And that’s my abiding memory – damaged ears straining against noise, grabbing at the melody, just to make that moment last a little longer. It was incredible. I wish you’d been there.


And thanks to whoever uploaded this recording of the Manchester gig. Is ‘Only Shallow’ like that on purpose?


Richard said...

Your London correspondant has nothing as eruduite to add, except that he jumped around like a loon in "Nothing Much to Lose" and endured the whole thing without earplugs, with no noticable effect.

Anonymous said...

I observed one amusing effect of going without earplugs.

When we emerged from the show, Neil and I started to converse, through tinitus, and it quickly became apparent that he had acquired a lithp.

There's a rational explanation - he had a lisp as child, had learned to suppress it, but couldn't do so effectively after the show because he couldn't really hear what he was saying.

Regardless, it was pretty funny to hear him utter: "I don't think that noi-th ha-th had any permanent effect on me. My ear-th are buzzing a bit, but that'th it."

Anonymous said...

Your Glasgow correspondent also danced around to "Nothing Much To Lose" which was easily the highlight of their set! Your Glasgow correspondent wishes that that he hadn't bothered with earplugs.

Chris said...

Thanks, correspondents. I think I'm almost over it now.

Brogues, your Flickr friend James' pictures of the previous day's show are great.

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