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Review: Shoegaze icons My Bloody Valentine’s return to Philly is mixed, but impressive

My Bloody Valentine plays Philadelphia for the first time in 21 years | Photo by Abi Reimold | abireimoldphoto.com
My Bloody Valentine plays Philadelphia for the first time in 21 years | Photo by Abi Reimold | abireimoldphoto.com

Last night legendary Dublin shoegaze outfit My Bloody Valentine played in Philadelphia for the first time since a two night stint at the Trocadero Theater in 1992. Thousands of fans packed the Electric Factory and waited in reverent anticipation as a seemingly endless amount of instruments and pieces of equipment were checked and the stage was set.

After over an hour of preparation the letters “mbv” appeared projected above the stage and bright lights blinded the audience. As the lights shined, the members of the band appeared as silhouettes and took their place. Psychedelic patterns began projecting over the entire stage and singer/guitarist Kevin Shields began strumming the chords to “Sometimes” on a thunderously distorted and amplified acoustic guitar. The sound was ear-splittingly loud, meticulously crafted and seemed to paralyze most of the audience, who stood in awe of their heroes as they played a set of career-spanning songs including many new pieces from their most recent record mbv as well as fan favorites from the classic and untouchable Loveless and “You Made Me Me Realise”.

Unfortunately the show did not go off without a hitch. The set was plagued by technical difficulties and many songs needed to be restarted after Shields was unsatisfied by one thing or another. It was hard to tell from the audience exactly what was going wrong but Shields became increasingly frustrated as the night went on and more problems arose. His apologies were the only words he spoke to the audience for the duration of the show, except for the thank you and goodbye at the close of the set. Despite these issues, the performance was incredible and in my opinion the band certainly justified the high anticipation and hype surrounding their return. Check out photos in the gallery below, and videos of the set after the jump.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: My Bloody Valentine at Electric Factory, Dresses at MilkBoy, Taj Mahal Trio at Grand Opera House, and more

My Bloody Valentine

Ethereal alt-rock icons My Bloody Valentine are bringing their elusive melodies and spidery vocals to Electric Factory tonight before they finish up their North American tour in New York. Dropping their anxiously anticipated third full length album mbv in February, Mark Richardson of Pitchfork gave it a 9.1 in his review saying, “mbv is an album of density with very little air or light. But it doesn’t forgo the human touches that have made this band so special.” Find tickets and details for tonight’s show here. Get ready for the show by watching their London performance of “Soon” below.

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XPN Welcomes My Bloody Valentine to the Electric Factory on 11/9

My Bloody Valentine

Touring in support of last February’s long-awaited mbv LP, Dublin’s My Bloody Valentine have announced a date at the Electric Factory on November 9th, their first Philly show in over 20 years.  The shoegaze pioneers reunited in 2007 to finish work on a third album after disbanding a decade earlier.  With songs that were started prior to the break-up,  mbv comes 21 years after My Bloody Valentine’s previous effort, 1991′s seminal Loveless, which had gone on to influence countless bands from Radiohead to Arc in Round in the years since its release.  Tickets for the XPN Welcomes show go on sale this Friday, September 14th; more information will be available here.  Watch the band perform “Only Shallow” from Loveless below.

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What will a new My Bloody Valentine album sound like, anyway? (plus: listen to MBV-influenced Philly musicians)

A big bomb dropped this morning for fans of loud amplifiers, effects pedals and that hypnotic musical genre known as shoegaze. Kevin Shields, singer and guitarist for My Bloody Valentine, told long-standing UK music news source NME that his band will release a new album by year’s end. The as-yet-untitled work would be available through Shields’ website, and would be followed up by an EP of even newer material.

This news is nothing short of staggering, considering that MBV’s last recorded work was the landmark record Loveless, released some 21 years ago back in November of 1991. Its blend of dissonance and agression with beauty and tranquility had no major parallels at the time, but went on to influence countless artists in the subsequent decades. You could hear the echo of Loveless in 90s acts like The Verve and Mazzy Star as well as 21st century rock demagogues Radiohead, all the way down to smaller-profile artists like Japancakes (who covered the album in its entirety in 2007), Black Angels and currently buzzing Baltimore outfit Secret Mountains.

So the question is – what is the band’s first album in 21 years going to sound like, anyway? Shields told NME that the engineers and musicians who have heard the record, which has been in the works since sometime the 90s, find it to be more far-out than Loveless. He doesn’t agree, however.

So does that mean it will merely be Loveless II? One would think that a band wouldn’t release its first album in 21 years unless it had something new to say / do, right? Even a bad My Bloody Valentine record would rule pretty hard…but what if the unthinkable happens and it is bad? Could it tarnish the legacy of Loveless? Are you excited or afraid to listen?

Ponder these questions, and let us know what you think in the comments below. And while you do that, check out an assortment of artists from our own local music community here in Philly that, one way or another, have drawn influence from My Bloody Valentine. Continue reading →