My Bloody Valentine @ Kool Haus

By: Chris Brisbane

My Bloody Valentine @ Kool Haus
Photo: David MacIntyre

One of the most anticipated comebacks in modern rock music came to fruition for Toronto last Thursday.

With much fanfare and wild applause, My Bloody Valentine made their way on stage in front of a rammed house at the Kool Haus. Modestly and nonchalantly waving to the crowd, Kevin Shields, Bilinda Butcher, Debbie Googe, and Colm Ó Cíosóig casually made their way to their respective instruments, before unleashing an unrelenting, pounding, supersonic onslaught upon the crowd.

Kicking off a world tour this past summer after an official announcement regarding their reunion, My Bloody Valentine picked up exactly where they left off: Churning out classic yet timeless psychedelic shoegaze rock. Although we all might have aged since those exciting years of the late ‘80s and early-‘90s, when hair rock was put out of its misery with the rise of very creative and explorative bands, a lot of the clothing, hairstyles, and general appearance of those in attendance harkened back to that era. That just might be a rather superficial observation, despite a large contingent of the audience being well into their thirties. Regardless, the music sure fit those bygone years - as did its incredible volume - while crucially retaining its timeless sound and appeal.

Wisely inserting our ear plugs, which were handed out by security upon entering the venue, the crowd of nearly two thousand could barely contain itself, as the band opened with a stellar and extended rendition of "I Only Said". Despite nearly inaudible vocals from Shields and Butcher, the song never sounded so good: Drenched in reverb and distortion, delivering the perfect hazy bliss as originally recorded on their now classic album Loveless. Despite the prominent simple melody of the song, it was somewhat of a shame when the song concluded, because it could have gone on forever.

From there it was onto another extended version of another Loveless cut, "When You Sleep". By this point there were dozens and dozens of cell phones held up by fans, ensuring that they had captured this moment, and perhaps for some just in case this reunion is short-lived.

Whatever goals and intentions might be being served with this reunion cannot be said for certain. What can be easily observed, however, is their radical and emphatic determination to be the loudest musical act in recent memory. The closer I got to the stage, the more I could feel my chest and arms shaking and vibrating. This is the kind of effect one is used to from the punishing Valve Sound System and bass bins of drum n' bass producer Dillinja. Perhaps this reviewer is a hermit who doesn't get out to enough shows, but this I don't normally experience at a rock concert.

Regardless of the crushing, blistering volume, no one seemed to be disappointed or complaining, except those who went without ear plugs. My Bloody Valentine were simply stellar. Their decision to reunite, at least on this night, was well worth it indeed. Their brand of rock n' roll - blissed out progressive, pitch-bending shoegaze - isn't heard that much these days.

They stormed through a set comprised of songs from the punk and hardcore-influenced Isn't Everything, such as "Cupid Come" and "Nothing Much to Lose", and of course the much revered Loveless. They finished their set in true fashion: Approximately fifteen to twenty minutes of sheer, unadulterated, blaring noise. While quite a few of those in attendance could only tolerate so much and made their way to the exit, the majority remained and endured the grueling kaleidoscope of noise, which eventually resulted in the band churning out a quick, rough punk-influenced jam and concluded as quickly as it started. For the majority it was worth it, as they got to see My Bloody Valentine deliver their music in true form.

 

Video: My Bloody Valentine live in Toronto


Video: "Only Shallow" by My Bloody Valentine

 

Kevin Shields
Photo: David MacIntyre
Kevin Shields
Debbie Googe
Photo: David MacIntyre
Debbie Googe
Colm O'Ciosoig
Photo: David MacIntyre
Colm O'Ciosoig
Bilinda Butcher
Photo: David MacIntyre
Bilinda Butcher
Kevin Shields
Photo: David MacIntyre
Kevin Shields

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