Concert Reviews

My Bloody Valentine at the Fillmore

My Bloody Valentine, Kurt Heasley and Bright Black Morning Light
Friday, April 24, 2009
Fillmore Auditorium, Denver
Better Than:
Mere nostalgia for the band could account.

Bright Black Morning Light, who opened the show, is actually a remarkably good band, but some of its power was compromised in this setting and with the mix it received. Instead of the intensity and richness of sound we've come to expect from Bright Black, the act sounded a bit washed out. Just the same, there were moments where the band's power came through in spite of everything.

Kurt Heasley was up next and probably seemed like an odd choice for the middle slot. Had he appeared with his old band, the Lilys, no one would have been confused. As it was, though, Heasley put in a good showing with a set of solo numbers that featured his signature spidery, resonant guitar work and commanding voice. In what could have been an awkward moment, Heasley's confidence and charm seemed to win over more than a few people in the crowd.

Shortly after Heasley's set, My Bloody Valentine came out on stage with little fanfare and kicked right into "When You Sleep." It wasn't the nearly oppressive rush of sound we'd all anticipated (that came later), and near the sound booth, the vocals were all but buried in the mix, a phenomenon that continued well through half the show. Nevertheless, the instrumentation sounded excellent. Valentine isn't the kind of band that jumps around or pulls other silly rockstar stunts, but Deb Googe was incredibly animated throughout the show and Colm Ó Cíosóig seemed to throw himself into the drum set with nearly every song.

Over the course of the set, the sound seemed to get subtly louder along the way and the vocals seemed to either be raised or mixed better, as well. Among others, we were treated to performances of "Come in Alone," "I Only Said," the violin-y refrain of which stuck in many a head, "To Here Knows When," "Loomer," and an especially intense version of "Soon," "Lose My Breath," "Cupid Come," and "(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream."  At times the sound went a little awry, but it fit in with the overall arc and texture of the songs. The real surprise came with one of the final songs, "Feed Me With Your Kiss." The original is a firebrand from Isn't Anything, but for this performance, the band threw in a ten to fifteen minute section of controlled noise that sounded like the mothership was preparing for take-off.

The flood of low end pummeled even at the halfway point to the back of the room and you could hear Butcher's and Shields' guitars beautifully weaving and wailing like the air raid siren in the Rod Taylor version of The Time Machine. The sounds built to an unbelievable intensity and when the band launched back into the main refrain of the song the intensity raised to a nearly incomprehensible level beyond that. I've seen some loud, noisy bands in my time but My Bloody Valentine went beyond anything else I've yet witnessed with that closing song and left no one wondering if there would be an encore because nothing could have surpassed it.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias:
When I first heard Loveless in 1991, it had a bigger impact on me than Nevermind did.
Random Detail: I met the affable Jim Yelenick after the show.
By the Way: The members of the band post-show seemed like nice, friendly people, especially Googe.

Editor's Note: Tom Murphy filed this review on Monday morning, but due to an oversight on our part, it didn't get posted until now. Our apologies for the delay.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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