My Bloody Valentine filled Hammerstein with beautiful noise (and 2 new songs) — setlist, review
Shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine are currently on their first tour in five years, ahead of the release of a new EP and/or album, and that tour landed in NYC on Wednesday night (8/1) for a show at Hammerstein Ballroom, the same venue they played the last time they were in NYC, in 2013. As they’ve done at other shows on this tour, they played two new songs at the show (written on the setlist as “New Song 1″ and “New Song 2″), as well as a solid mix of songs from their classic ’80s/’90s albums and EPs and their 2013 comeback album m b v. It hardly mattered what their exact song choices were though. Obviously there are those songs that always get the crowd going, like the hard-driving Loveless opener “Only Shallow” and set-closer “You Made Me Realise,” complete with its “holocaust” noise section that literally rattles your bones, but mostly MBV’s shows are about creating a psychedelic wall of sound that overtakes you and transports you to some place other than earth. They hardy talk on stage at all, they just bulldoze through a sea of beautiful noise. Everything blends together perfectly, whether it’s music from 30 years ago or music that hasn’t even been released yet.
And MBV very much succeeded in creating the psychedelic experience that they sought out to create. They played in front of a gigantic screen projecting trippy visuals, and they provided a swirling blend of feedback, glide guitar, and hypnotic basslines, with Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher’s dreamy harmonies buried in the mix but gorgeous as ever, and Colm Ó Cíosóig’s powerhouse drumming keeping the band grounded and giving them the strong backbone they need. And as you’d expect, they were loud. Kevin played with three Marshall full stacks behind him, and there were moments where almost all you could hear was blaring guitar. (Kevin is one of the few guitarists who can have J Mascis open for him and still be the loudest guitar player in the room.) They really do a good job of recreating that obsessed-over, guitar-heavy mix that Loveless has in a live setting.
For the most part, though, My Bloody Valentine’s live show is so great because it isn’t an exact replica of their studio albums. They make the kind of albums that require so much attention to detail in the studio, but live, it’s less about the small details and more about the overall sensory overload. They hardly moved on stage (except bassist Deb Googe, who rocks out the whole show), but thanks to the energy they were giving off, they felt like giants. It’s still hard to believe that all they have up there are five humans (including their additional live guitarist) using little more than guitars, bass, drums, and the occasional keyboard, and they still fill the room with such a larger-than-life sound that sounds like no other rock band (even with the many, many other rock bands out there who copy My Bloody Valentine). All these decades into their career, MBV still sound like the future.
As mentioned, J Mascis opened the show, playing with his instrumental heavy psych band Heavy Blanket (who also headlined Coney Island Baby one night prior). I sadly got there a little late and only caught the end of their set, but they sounded far out. A very appropriate opener to set the stage for My Bloody Valentine.
Check out MBV’s setlist and more pics and videos from the show, including a couple of Heavy Blanket, below.
I Only Said
When You Sleep
(New Song 1)
You Never Should
(New Song 2)
Cigarette in Your Bed
What You Want
Nothing Much to Lose
Who Sees You
To Here Knows When
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise