Making it hard on yourself – how not to experience My Bloody Valentine

mbv ticket cph

I went to see the My Bloody Valentine gig in Copenhagen yesterday. No need to get into their credentials, I assume most are aware at least to some degree that this band have had a huge impact on modern rock, electronic and experimental music.
I have seen them once before at Roskilde Festival and was more or less blown away back then – like I hoped I would be, having picked up on their records in the mid-nineties and only heard about their notorious and magic live performances; magic as only tales you never get to experience yourself can be. But Roskilde happened and it was a brutal and beautiful attack on the senses of the very rare kind.
So obviously, with a new record out and a tour that included a stop in Copenhagen, I was looking forward to this concert. And I had a good time, no doubt.
But today I wonder what a person with no knowledge of the bands records would think of this concert. Because it was obvious that both me and the people around me were bobbing our heads in recognition every time a new song kicked in because we somewhat knew what songs were played. In other words, the sound was bad – not only bad, but way too low as well, which was quite surprising, to say the least.
Some observations:
– apparently the sound on stage was also a blur, since it took 4 false starts of the song Thorn, before they realized Belinda Butcher had misplaced the capo on her guitar.
– I honestly lost count of how many cabinets and amplifiers were stacked up behind Kevin Shields.
– guitars were being exchanged in between songs with no exception (perhaps for tuning reasons, I’ll acknowledge that)

And here’s my point: I’ve never had the money or the patience to become a full blown gear snob, but I refuse to believe that all the effect loops and distinct cabinet and guitar sounds of MBV can’t be mimicked digitally to an extent where no one would give a damn at a live show, as long as the volume is right. (Except for the guy in the corner with arms crossed and a know-all attitude, but you know what? Fuck that guy from here to eternity). What I witnessed yesterday was a sound guy who managed to drown both vocals and bass guitar in a mix that really went nowhere, because he or she weren’t able to control the elements through the mixing board – in all probability because it’s damn hard to work with a stage setup such as My Bloody Valentine’s. Such a shame.

So, please, MBV don’t make it so hard on yourself. Buy that software or effects board. I won’t scorn you. Instead, I just might get a full blown attack on the senses every time I see you in concert, because I will of course attend any other future shows.

By the way, Colm Ó Cíosóig saved that gig. What an absolute hero behind a drum kit.

As a fan


It shouldn’t come as no surprise, but I listen to music as well.
Two years ago I had the good fortune to travel to London and see Killing Joke for the first time. This is a band whose records have always intrigued me, ranging from dissonant tribal noiserock to moody pop music. And that night they lived up to all my expectations, delivering their songs fiercely, loud and life affirming; it was amazing. What I didn’t know at the time, was that this particular concert was also being recorded for a future release: “Down by the river” came out in 2012, and I have a copy of the vinyl edition. So I’m in the privileged position of having the opportunity to revisit this concert whenever I feel like it, how about that.
I just found the concert ticket while going through the endless clutter of my boxes of broken music instruments, outdated software and various memorabilia.
So there you have it. I make music, but I’m also a fan…