I have never walked into a concert where there was a bucket of ear plus waiting for me because as the sign stated at the door, ‘this concert is about to get loud up in here’.
That was the case for My Bloody’s Valentine show at the Hammerstein Ballroom a few weeks back in NYC. Ok why is it called the Hammerstein Ballroom when it clearly says the Manhattan Center on the outside of the building? Oof! Do you know how hard it was to find this place until I asked some wayward teenagers who looked at me like I was a fool? Good times.
I was in my first year of university when the classic ‘m b v’ album, “Loveless” was released in 1991. Talk about the perfect mix of rage, shoe gaze, and postpunk. I have never seen ‘m b v’ live until this NYC show so I was unsure if the nuclear wasteland that transmitted through my tape deck as a teen would stand up to a live performance.
Let me tell you, it did. Visiting live performances of songs like ‘Sometimes’, ‘Nothing Much To Lose’ and ‘You Made Me Realise’ was not only beautifully organized in mass musical chaos but it left me and a tame NYC audience gobsmacked. I need to go home and throw out that tape and upgrade to MP3’s of these tracks pronto. What can I say, I’m old school.
Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher did not say much to the faithful audience during their over 2 hour set but they were present. Even amongst the heckling they looked amused at the pack house of loyal followers who obviously knew their ‘m b v’ tracks.
It was an over 16-year hiatus for ‘m b v’ when it came to touring but they delivered. I wondered have they been practicing secretly for years back in the UK while we grew up and wondered if we would ever see them ever again.
‘m b v’’s show gradually started out quietly loud during the first few sets but eventually grew in nature. Not at all evil in intent but there were definite challenges with the mixing of technology, the rawness of musical instruments and a strong physicality being dispensed by the musicians. Art. As music laypeople we may not think a lot of effort goes into making noise into music but if ‘m b v’ is any indication this is truly an art form they have mastered.
At one point I looked around the ballroom and people were transfixed to the stage or at best banging their heads (?). I took my ear plugs out a few times to listen to how loud ‘m b v’ were getting and let me tell you I may have lost a good chunk of my hearing that night if I didn’t have those ear plugs in. It was sublime.
There “our last song for a long time” as stated by a rather chilled Kevin Shields before waving good bye to a deafer NYC crowd was “You Made Me Realise”. It was thrilling and I truly felt the ghosts of The Ramones, Joe Strummer and Sid Vicious in the room bowing down in homage as the song unraveled in full punk rock fury. It was beautiful and endless in its presentation. They truly left us with something that we could remember them by. Here’s to another 15 years.
I Only Said
When You Sleep
You Never Should
Cigarette in Your Bed
Come in Alone
Nothing Much to Lose
Who Sees You
To Here Knows When
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise