Regardless of the circumstances of the actual show, it always seems like somewhat of an event when My Bloody Valentine comes to NYC. For me, it's a thrill to see the members of the "classic" MBV lineup perform tunes from Loveless, and it's always amazing to me that they're able to capably recreate the densely textured layers of sound that Loveless is known for.
I was as surprised (and delighted) as anyone when MBV reformed in 2008, and I was fortunate enough to be present at both of their Roseland shows that September. (Here's my review of night 1.) The '08 shows were truly landmark moments for hardcore fans who thought they'd likely never see Kevin Shields and Co. perform these songs live again. And earlier this year, the totally out-of-nowhere release of mbv was met with shock and wonder. (Too bad the album is kinda boring.)
On this night, we arrived midway through opening act Dumb Numbers' set. Murph from Dinosaur Jr. was on drums, and his heavy-handed primal pounding livened up the set of otherwise commonplace doomy, stoner licks. We were surprised to find plenty of room way up front near the stage before realizing that this show was woefully undersold. Oh well.
MBV's set was, literally, mind-blowing. This was the loudest concert (and, quite possibly, the loudest 'thing') that I've ever witnessed - despite double-stacking earplugs, I was still concerned that I was inflicting significant damage upon my eardrums. (About 2/3 of the way through the set, we took refuge at the rear of the room, only to find that it was somehow JUST AS LOUD in the way-back.) What's more, the effect of the music launching off the stage and colliding with our torsos was responsible a bizarre physical phenomenon similar to being in plane turbulence - throughout the entire set I noted that my ribcage was shaking something fierce. Kinda alarming!
I do have a couple of not-so-positive observations about the show that need to be made, however. First, MBV really needs to either play smaller rooms, or drop their ticket prices, or both. The balconies at Hammerstein were largely empty, which is a real shame. Furthermore, we got the feeling that some of the music was being piped in, a theory underscored by the fact that Bilinda didn't even play her guitar for the very vast majority of the set. Had she, you know, actually learned her parts, one would think the necessity of having a new "touring member" onstage during the set would be eliminated. No?
Regardless, as I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed this set. It's not often that godhead is splayed out in front of me like this, and I appreciated the bejeezus out of this show. The setlist was fortunately slanted heavily in favor of the classics from Loveless, with only four tracks from mbv being performed. And, of course, the evening ended with the lengthy feedback / noise freakout that's tacked onto the end of "You Made Me Realise."