Monday, June 23, 2008

Gotta get down to the noise and confusion

This won’t be a review of My Bloody Valentine, really. You’ll see oodles of those over the coming days. Instead, I am going to indulge in a bit of back story. This is a story that close friends have heard before, but what the hell, I enjoy spinning a yarn now and then.

It was autumn 1991. That summer, I had failed my A levels and had returned to sixth form college for an extra year. I'd had a miserable couple of years but was beginning to emerge again. I was relatively popular with my peers, although this may have something to do with my being able to drive and having access to a Mark 5 Ford Cortina GL with an ‘I killed Laura Palmer’ sticker in the back window. I hung around with some of the more outlandish of Exeter University's students, some other college students and some of Exeter's long-term unemployed/unemployable. I'm happy to report that a couple of people from this time are still close friends. I hear fuzzily-detailed updates about some of the others, periodically.

My exposure to MBV had started a few years before when I'd bought myself a ‘Melody Maker Top 20 Indie’ two-tape compilation. Included there was their jangly three-minute song Strawberry Wine. This polite three-minute gallop-through with harmonies didn’t really hint at their big-noised efforts to come. The big thing to covet was the 12” copy of Geek! that Hendersons, an Exeter second-hand record shop, had on display. The cost, a cool thirty quid – I couldn’t afford it, and none of my friends could either. On Thursday nights at the Timepiece, Stu would play the songs from the EPs and we would crash and flail about the dancefloor.

Sometime that autumn Loveless was released and I went to see MBV play the University Great Hall. There may have been a support band, but I can't recall who they were. A friend of mine from that time probably said, because he always did after gigs, 'I preferred the support'. He was a lovely chap, but also a terrible bullshitter.

MBV played a horribly fierce show from start to finish, with a strobey light show. The volume was exceptionally high. They had a flautist playing all the top-end distortion/melodies. During the final number, You made me realise, the strobes flashed harder than before and the volume increased, and the band settled into fifteen minutes-odd of noise. The audience staggered in and out to the stairs in the lobby of the building, trying to give themselves a breather from the waves of distortion and feedback. Hardened gig-goers were swooning, holding their heads and crying.

I left the Great Hall disorientated and feeling nauseous, then drove eight miles to a coastal town where my boyfriend at the time lived. All the way there, stuff was flashing in front of my eyes, like ghosts flying at the car windscreen, so I slowed the car to a crawl. The following morning my entire body was so wracked with pain that I couldn’t get up. I slept for hours.

Ten years or so later I got to know Kevin Shields’s sister Anne-Marie. She had been tour manager for the band at the time I went to the gig. I told her about the above experience and commented that although I’ve never taken acid, it was just like I had and the end of the world was coming, to which she said ‘Kevin will be really pleased to hear that’.

So, Saturday night, and I’m doing the same thing, but this time with earplugs, and with the collected hearing damage of a couple of decades’ worth of gigs and nightclubs behind me. At first I was feeling cautious, not sure if I was tuned in to them, but by the time they launched into Thorn I relaxed and started to enjoy it. Thankfully, they were really good. I could afford to go apeshit crazy, like those evenings in the Timepiece, wheeling about, hair thrashing.

One whinge: a bloody typical London audience, you can’t tell if they are enjoying it, and nobody dances. Christ!

So, the holocaust noise section of You made me realise? All present and correct, for over twenty minutes. I’m just beginning to hear properly again.

More on the remainder of the weekend another time.


At 5:18 pm, Blogger Tim said...

I bought the Jullee Cruise record "Falling" today from a charity shop, which promised (and was sadly missing) the "I Killed Laura Palmer" sticker. This led me to your blog page in the hope of finding a picture of the original sticker.
Although I didn't find it, I enjoyed reading your blog cause I was at Exeter University 7 years later than you and seem to have had a similar experience. I was also at the most recent MBV concert at the Roundhouse which was incredible. I don't know why I'm telling you this, I just thought it was a strange twist of fate.

At 1:49 pm, Blogger deafdisco said...

Hi Tim, thanks for reading and posting a comment. I think my sister dispensed with my Laura Palmer sticker (she used to find it embarrassing). I'm living in hope that one day I'll be able to replace it.

My time in Exeter was fun. Have you been there recently? I was back last weekend and part of the town has been re-modelled. It's now oddly chic in a chain-store sort of way.

Fuck yeah, MBV still know how to blow minds, after all these years.

At 2:31 pm, Blogger Daddio said...

hey there!
Apologies for the incredibly late reply. I didn't really expect an answer to my post and was sorting through my favorites list when I came across your blog again. I will definitley be returning more frequently in the future though as you write some interesting blogs.
Funnily enough I had to drive through Exeter the other day on the way to Lyme Regis for a little (damp) camping holiday. Well the traffic system hasnt improved as we were driving around lost for about an hour. Didn't get a chance to see the centre but would have liked to have seen if my fave haunts were still there: The Cavern club where I must have seen a 100 bands. (I'm sure I saw muse do an early gig there but probably my imagination) and The real mccoy, a unique combination of thrift store and cafe.
If I ever find the laura palmer sticker I'll pass it on to you but hey, you cant really blame your sister, can you?
Regards Tim

At 11:01 am, Blogger deafdisco said...

Hey Daddio,
Both The Real McCoy and The Cavern are still in evidence!
The Cav used to be run by a guy I once knew, Dave - not sure if he still looks after the place. He was a lovely geezer. And yes, you would have most likely have seen Muse there. They once came second in a Battle of the Bands competition to my mate's outfit, The Sluts (or was it The Slags? Can't remember). I'm not best placed to comment about them, I couldn't pick them out of a line-up.
Thanks for the encouraging words about the blog. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it!
Best, Miss Disco


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