Twice in the last week I have had my ears raped by the loudest sound I have ever heard. Forget whatever you’ve read regarding My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Holocaust’ section in ‘You Made Me Realise’; it sounds like sitting inside a jet engine while the earth is cracking in half. If you don’t walk away with hearing damage it means you already had it before you saw them. The Tivoli show was also the only time I have been handed a set of ear plugs as I entered a venue. It really set the scene for what was to follow.
The setlist for each of the shows on MBV’s current tour have been identical, containing only one cut off the new album, ‘New You’ (coincidence? I think not). The visuals, beautiful and expansive, were all the same; essentially the Tivoli show was a carbon copy of ATP. This is an observation, not a criticism. My Bloody Valentine is a well-oiled touring machine.
Generally the sound at each of these shows was pretty muddy, and though this is very much what I expected, and enjoyed, at ATP, I thought in the more intimate confines of the Tivoli there would be more definition in the vocals and guitars and less cutting white noise. It almost seemed that there was a clean guitar amp with the treble cracked right up that was louder than everything else in the room, which unfortunately had the effect of completely drowning out the gorgeous vocal and guitar melodies in the songs.
The only songs that seemed to cut through properly were from the ‘Isn’t Anything’ era, as they seemed to have more room to breathe. For all the hoopla about Kevin Shields, the real star of the show was Debbie Googe, looking ever the rock star as she thrashed her bass about during ‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’ and ‘You Made Me Realise’, easily the most visually exciting thing happening on stage. Clearly she forgot she was supposed to be staring at her feet
In all honesty, I think I enjoyed the ATP show more purely because it was the first time I’ve seen MBV live. I would put the ATP show up there with the best shows I’ve ever seen, and that excitement and expectation could never be replicated for the Tivoli show only a few days later.
Although slightly disappointed with the mix at the Tivoli, I now have a new outlook on, and appreciation of MBV’s studio recordings, and have since revisited the entire back catalogue again. It seems like MBV unnecessarily lived up to the legend of being one of the loudest bands of all time, at the expense of anyone actually hearing their music with any clarity. I can’t say whether that was the band’s intention, or whether it was an off mix.
In the end, what everyone will talk about is the ‘Holocaust’ in the middle of ‘You Made Me Realise’. If there is such a thing as the brown note it must be closely related to the resonance that MBV create during this song.
It made my balls vibrate.
It simply needs to be experienced to be believed that sound can do these things to your body. At first it is unsettling, then makes you very uncomfortable, before a great calm settles over your body as you become completely enveloped in the soundwaves. It was like a sonic awakening as the earth shattered and crumbled beneath my feet.
I guess you had to be there.
By Clint Morrow