Two nights ago I saw My Bloody Valentine in New York. I had not seen them before, and they more than lived up to expectations. Way back in 1992 I was living in Austria, I was feeling out of touch with music so I asked a friend to send me three discs—my choice of material was almost arbitrary, and yet I was inexplicably certain that all three albums would be at worst really solid. The CDs were Doolittle, Loveless, and Slanted & Enchanted. Yeah. And MBV has been a constant, beloved companion of mine ever since.
Some of the reviews of the MBV shows from earlier this year were surprisingly tepid, but I can assure you that they worked out whatever was holding them back. The unremitting volume of the gig was a constant theme, including the free earplugs distributed at the venue. The show ended with a tibia-rattling rendition of “You Made Me Realise” that for quite a while sounded approximately like Apollo 11 taking off for orbit.
I didn’t time the white noise section, but according to reports it lasted six minutes—BrooklynVegan referred to it as a “Holocaust.” In an intriguing comment in that same BV thread (most of the time BV threads are entertainingly moronic), reader “ME” wrote, “MBV faced a lot of criticism after the previous tour, when the white noise ... lasted for about 20 minutes. Even Colin Newman, who knows a thing or two about making noise from when MBV were still infants, confronted Kevin, telling him it was irresponsible to inflict such a damage on their fans. Maybe that is why they cut it short now?”
Curiosity piqued, I decided to hit the Google machine. There does indeed seem to have been such an incident. In a 2008 interview with exclaim.ca, Newman tells the following story:
Last night, before we went home, my wife and I were at the after party and I had to use the loo. And Kevin [Shields] was in there. There were three stalls and I was on one side and Kevin was on the far side and there was another guy, who was at the after party, but he looked like he was just a fan. Kevin said to me, “What do you think?” and I just said that it just “hurt my ears” and that the last song “went on too long.” He said, “Yeah, we’re going to have to do some work on that, it was something that we were just kicking around.” And the guy in the middle said, “I can’t believe you just said that! It was such a religious experience for me!” But to me it was just my friend being too loud.
It all reminded me of MBV’s cover of the Wire classic “Map Ref. 41°N 93°W,” which appeared on the 1996 album Whore: Tribute to Wire. By the way, did you know that 41°N 93°W correlates to a town called Centerville, Iowa? I didn’t even know it was about America. Here’s a gratuitous picture of Centerville:
My Bloody Valentine, “Map Ref. 41°N 93°W”:
Below, the little-known orginal music video for “You Made Me Realise” from 1989: