Band reunions are delicate undertakings. The volatile combination of egos, grudges and expectations often lead to a set of shows that, while nostalgic, only further solidify an aging band’s irrelevance. But My Bloody Valentine was never a “rock band” in the traditional sense of the phrase. The group’s Wednesday performance transcended the notion of a mere reunion; devastatingly loud, as expected, but the volume only served to promulgate the dream-like aesthetic My Bloody Valentine mastered on 1988’s “Isn’t Anything” and their 1991 magnum opus “Loveless.”
The band largely succeeded in providing a powerful realization of “Loveless.” Kevin Shields’ and Bilinda Butcher’s voices were buried deep in the mix, often to the point of inaudibility; at times the complexity of the material was lost in the murky swell of guitar and drums (most notably on “To Here Knows When”). Standout single “Soon” was a highlight, with its dynamic dance backbeat and emotive A-B-A structure.
Songs from the band’s pre-“Loveless” LP, the more punk-based (and criminally overlooked) “Isn’t Anything,” were well suited to the live setting. Whether it was the stop-start madness of “Nothing Much To Lose” or the relentless “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream,” MBV’s performance revealed their strengths in the traditional rock vein.
From the start, Colm O Ciosoig’s drumming was established as the focal point of the performance. His wild, often unsteady technique injected a sense of humanity into a sound that, in its recorded incarnation, is based on texture and nuance rather than emotion.
The show culminated with the 20-minute version of “You Made Me Realise,” which boasts a 15-minute noise freak-out detour known as the “holocaust” section. The sheer amount of sound created during that segment defies simple explanation; it’s an entirely physical experience that forces a unique reaction out of each and every concertgoer.