Posted by: martinworster | October 5, 2008


Cans Festival, Waterloo, London,

Cans Festival, Waterloo, London,

Despite not having released any new material since 1991 My Bloody Valentine managed to fill two consecutive nights at the Santa Monica Civic Centre (Wed Oct 1st). It’s amazing what the powers of indie mythology and the internet can do.

I’ll be honest, they kind of passed me by at the time – I was busy with my head stuck in a bassbin listening to proto-jungle whilst pretending to be a rude bwoy in London town. Then I started hearing things in the music press over the last two years or so about ‘shoegaze’ – of which My Bloody Valentine were the leading proponents. Bands who played with lots of guitar affects and hard to hear vocals to create an atmospheric drone, all executed whilst – geddit – staring at their shoes. A name perhaps created by navel gazing music journos. Now of course, we have nu-gaze.

So there was a lot of excitement over the re-formation of My Bloody Valentine for this tour which started in London. I’d been told about the immense noise they produced so took ear plugs and headphones. As a tinnitus sufferer they’re not the best band to see live.

Spectrum warmed up for them. Another band who passed me by at the time but have since been mythologised. Space rock heroin chic early 90s UK indie.

I only lasted a couple of songs with My Bloody Valentine. Not because they were bad, just because my ears – even with protection – couldn’t stand the immense volume. That’ll teach me for my early nineties youthful follies.

I liked what I saw. Kevin Shields, a notorious perfectionist, stood motionless and hammered out ethereal strings on his guitar whilst staring at his shoes. A female bass player jumped around, whilst the female lead singer was barely audible. The sound meshed into one noise with melodies running over the top, an atmospheric wall of sound. Some of the tunes I recognised. I could see – er hear – why they were so revered and influential. It was a unique sound and still sounds very relevant almost twenty years later since it’s inception.

I felt a strange sense of nostalgia whilst wathcing them. Which was odd as I hadn’t seen them before. Perhaps that was in tune with the whole post modern aura of the gig – a band elevated to mythical status due to the blogosphere. I guessed that most of the people in the room never bought their CDs at the time. I felt nostalgic for something I never experienced at the time. Odd. It was probably, as the years slip by, a nostalgia for my youth, I wanted to transport back to the early nineties to be at some sweaty student gig, clutching a snake bite and black, an eight of Moroccan red seal nudging me from my pocket.

I stayed outside for the rest of the gig for ear drum relief. Then it came, the last twenty minutes was largely one big bass feedback, guitar droning noise fest. No exaggeration, it was like standing next to a jet airplane with engines running. The walls shook – even from outside. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like actually inside the venue.


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