Friday, 8 March 2013

My Bloody Valentine: Live at the O2 Birmingham

My Bloody Valentine can safely lay claim to producing the world’s loudest ephemeral haze. It is impossible to describe to someone how loud an MBV concert really is. It starts off loud ear bleedingly loud and then the volume increases steadily so that every five minutes or so you catch yourself thinking “I simply didn’t know it was possible for sound to be this loud”, and realise about how naive you were five minutes previously.

Fresh from shows in Japan and playing their first UK date in support of their first new album in 20 years, tonight sees the band on fine form. Opening with a few songs from Loveless, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time, the band is clearly happy to give people exactly what they paid their money for.
However, it’s actually the songs on their latest release that soar to the highest heights. Whereas Loveless works best through earphones, the new tracks are clearly designed with the live setting in mind and gel well enough with the old material to form a fitting whole.

As the gig continues, MBV begin to weave in a little of their pre-Loveless material. Most of the crowd knows where this is leading. MBV are famous for ending shows with a version of the song You Made Me Realise extended to include a section known as “the holocaust”, a wall of squalling feedback lasting up to twenty minutes so loud that the mind is supposed to combat the sheer volume by creating melodies of its own inside the listener’s head.

I knew that this was coming but nothing could really prepare me for it. I simply didn’t know that guitars could make a sound like that. The only way thing that I can think of to compare it to is the sound of a jet engine. As the volume levels peaked it became less of a sound, and more of a feeling pulsing through my entire body. Even wearing earplugs it was almost unbearable.

Finally the wall of sound ended as the band broke spontaneously back into the song. I’m not sure if it was because of what came before it, but it was the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard.