- My Bloody Valentine
- Roy Wilkins Auditorium
- St. Paul, MN.
Close my eyes
Feel me how
I don’t know maybe you could not hurt me now
from ‘Sometimes’ off My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless
The mere fact that this band is touring with new material is newsworthy alone after a 20+ year, generation-long hiatus that saw lead man Kevin Shields morph from his post-college, long hair, pretty-boy days to the mad scientist hairdo that exists now. Onstage it’s hard to decipher if Shields creates amazing shoegaze or just invented electricity. His closest followers may argue he can do both.
After attending seventy shows in the past two years for this site, this is the first time I’ve ever had security hand me earplugs walking into a show. In fact, they were so adamant about it (there was warning signage throughout the auditorium) I was ready for the Roy Wilkins staff to plug my ears personally. Now this is no surprise to well-educated MBV fans. My Bloody Valentine has been known for years now to be the Metallica of indie. Leave no eardrum unscathed is their motto, and justifiably so as I pushed them in deep myself for nearly two-thirds of the night’s performance. Where I get lost in this concept is the crap sound you get from an inch of foam pushed into your ear, especially when directed so from a meticulous audiophile such as Shields. Wouldn’t you be better off taking the decibels down from 120 to 95 and allow us to hear the music without half a cigarette sticking out of our ear?
The night’s opener ‘Sometimes’ was the show’s highlight. And a highlight it was. Watching and listening to this is a gift from the heavens. A perfect song from an at times, near perfect band. A blistering introduction it was to My Bloody Valentine in all of their sonic glory. Shields, off to the side, strumming on the mostly emblematic acoustic guitar while Bilinda Butcher and the others pound away at the building crescendo that is breathtaking. It’s the five minutes of the night that makes the $40 and earplugs worth it. From there the songs and the light show glide forward through the predictable set list which bounces back and forth between 1991 and 2013. If you thought the vocals were buried and indecipherable on the album, try the live show. Rare pop-like tracks such as the brilliant “New You” give much needed relief from the twisted tornado of guitars and melody that do figure-eights for the bulk of the nearly two hours.
Bilinda Butcher is a show stealing gem. Looking more of 32 years of age than the listed 52, she’s a fucking stoic rock star angel onstage in front of a dizzying array of sound and lights. While Shields is the bandleader and dramatically un-charismatic, Butcher is the sonic mascot; the beauty in the midst of the visual and metal onslaught. She’s far more of an appropriate visual staple to the show and its sound than our mad scientist to her left. Her vocals provide the perfect counterpoint to Shields and his wall of sound (sorry, bad cliche).
Where Shields actually lives up to expectations is with his demeanor. Quiet, reserved and a pure minimalist. His most notable comment (of the three or four he barely made) was in response to the crowd (almost jokingly) urging them to “play louder”. Shields’ reply? “Clap louder”. Ok then. Next track please.
In the end the band simulated the end of the world as we know it with a crushing metal fierceness with the finale of ‘You Made Me Realise’ – including a five minute, reverberating, head-turning, single-note riff that sounded like a skyscraper falling. And with that, a tiny goodbye, and no encore. 100 minutes of the metal shoegaze that left critics and fans begging Shields for more output for those two past decades. Quite frankly, I don’t see much more coming after this year’s excellent mbv release. When the followup to a classic takes 22 years, don’t expect anything more. Enjoy tonight and cross your fingers. This isn’t the Rolling Stones or Springsteen. MBV aren’t contracted to tour until 2048 like those dudes are.