Dispelling the myth: The Return Of My Bloody Valentine
Next Sunday, at the Roundhouse in London, I will see My Bloody Valentine live for the first time. It’s something I truly thought would never happen. When the band took a indefinite hiatus after the ‘Loveless’ tour ended back in 1992 at the Palace Theatre, Los Angeles, it seemed that was the end for My Bloody Valentine. I had already seen both Nirvana and the Pixies around that time, two other bands I was obsessed with as teenager back in the early Nineties, but My Bloody Valentine were a band whose live gigs had become stuff of legend, with reports of people passing out / hallucinating during the eardrum perforating mid-section of ‘You Made Me Realise’.
However I took solace in the fact that I would always have the albums and EPs. The Irish-British band’s 1991 masterpiece ‘Loveless’ soundtracked my late teens. It was an shockingly original album, full of off-kilter sound modulations and guitar effects that seemed to have been beamed in from another planet. The intertwining of Shields’ vocals with those of Belinda Butcher further added to the inscrutable nature of this astonishing record. It was an album that proved that music could change your life. It did for me and possibly hundreds of thousands of others, many of whom will be attending the upcoming gigs in London, Manchester and Glasgow (the four London gigs were sold out within ten minutes).
A band who are the true heirs to My Bloody Valentine’s noisy experimentalism are post-rock giants Mogwai. It was at one of their gigs, last summer at Somerset House, London, that I met the band’s creative lynchpin and bona fide genius Kevin Shields. It was strange seeing him in the flesh mingling with us mere mortals, yet stranger still to actually speak to him. Thanks to about four pints of the finest Dutch courage and a foreboding sense that if I didn’t approach him I would regret it forever, I walked up to him and announced – just in case he had forgotten – who he was…’Kevin Shields!!’. Thankfully, he proved to be an absolute gent. It was reassuring to discover that my all-time music hero would turn out to be such a polite, unassuming and utterly normal chap, completely at odds with the person that some had claimed had ‘gone mad’ and was living by himself in a North London mansion full of ‘barbed-wire and chinchillas’. In fact, since the post-‘Loveless’ meltdown, Shields has been busy remixing and producing other bands, playing guitar as part Primal Scream’s touring band and contributing to fan Sophia Coppola’s ‘Lost In Translation’ soundtrack.
When I asked him were My Bloody Valentine ever going to reconvene, he said a new album was in the works, there would be reissues of both ‘Loveless’ and ‘Isn’t Anything’ and yes, they were planning a tour. No new material has surfaced yet but the reissues will be out in a matter of weeks and the tour begins proper this Friday, so two out of three and all that. They have already played two ‘warm up rehearsals’ in London. The reports so far have been extremely positive. Apparently they were handing out ear-plugs at the door.
No change there, then. It’s gonna be good.
‘Only Shallow’ from one of the recent ‘warm-up’ gigs at the ICA, London.