So, My Bloody Valentine came back out of the blue last month and released their first album in over 20 years, almost without warning and available to all on the internet. Twitter was agog, the music journalists hailing this as a wondrous comeback were abound. Personally, I wasn’t that excited but I was intrigued to hear the simply titled mbv.
For me, MBV are one of those bands I hear so much about but somehow, I never seem to actually hear them that often. I have their albums but only occasionally give them a listen, which would suggest that I’m not a huge fan, but on those occasions I do choose to play Isn’t Anything or Loveless, I really enjoy them. We all have those albums in our collection… don’t we?
Surprisingly, considering the hype surrounding this much-anticipated comeback, last Friday’s gig at the O2 Academy in Birmingham was not sold out. It’s apparent from the crowd that over the years MBV have appealed to multiple scenes, there are indie ‘kids’, rockers, punks, goths and more; most of whom are now middle aged and some have even brought their children along for the show.
The colourful, psychedelic light show is impressive and provides an appropriate back drop for the onstage shoegazing but, to be honest, it’s mostly this that keeps me entertained throughout the ninety minute set. It’s good to hear the inimitable sound of MBV played live but their trademark fuzzy vocals are even lower in the mix than usual and almost inaudible at times. However, it doesn’t seem to matter to the diehard fans, they move and sway along to every distorted note.
I enjoy the heavier, louder songs more than the slow, meandering, drone-laden songs but I have to admit, after a while it began to sound a little monotonous. Maybe because I’m not an Ã¼ber fan or maybe because I feel they’re a band you should listen to in your bedroom or while driving on a long car journey but not in the live setting.
An impressive array of guitars are played by Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher, creating the distinctive, layered distortion. However, I’m most impressed by Debbie Googe, boisterously chugging out the strident bass lines with vigour throughout. Towards the end earplugs were very much needed as MBV add layer upon layer of noise and feedback, building to an enormous crescendo in the final song of the set, during which drummer Colm Ã“ CÃosÃ³ig comes out from behind his kit to play guitar with the rest of the band.
I enjoyed the show but I didn’t love it; in future I think I’ll just listen at home and leave MBV’s sweethearts to love them live.
Review by Eleanor Lawton