Archive for September, 2008
by Jonathan on September 28th, 2008
OK, I had some great momentum there for, like, a week, then I died off. I have excuses! I was in Paris for a couple of weeks, working on my book and overseeing the renovation of my tiny apartment – unfortunately more of the latter than the former, but the apartment is where I shall be writing most of the next three Jenner books, as well as my headquarters for staking a claim as a key journalist on matters of French food and travel…
But I’m back, and I’m incredibly happy to be in NYC now that the cool weather has returned. Today it’s positively English out – drizzly and grey, although an unfortunate 75 degrees. Still! We have the promise of gorgeous, crisp, clear autumn days ahead – October is absolutely my favourite month in the city, with fewer tourists, cool air, and all the assorted cultural crap that the season foists upon us annually. (A side note, I’m devastated to be missing Pina Bausch at BAM – I shall be in Paris for December, and Pina makes her biennial return just when I’ll be away, damn it all to heck… If you’ve not seen her work before, GO! Tanztheater Wuppertal perform, well, dance theater, which is to my mind, eye and ear infinitely more interesting and satisfying than either of the former alone. Stunningly beautiful stuff, although the loss of Jan Minarik has leeched away some of the whimsy.)
Anyway. Speaking of cultural crap, I saw My Bloody Valentine last week, and was completely blown away. I last saw them in 1992, with Dinosaur Junior and um, Screaming Trees, I think, and they were great then, but loud, so loud. And they were loud at Roseland, too: even with my high quality ear plugs, my ears were buzzing for 24 hours after the show.
It was truly a maximalist assault – the songs are a wall of stroked noise, blasted at high volume so you can hear the overtones and semitones develop in the auditorium. That makes them sound less than beautiful, which is unfair: this is exquisite music. But at its base is this dense roar of noise, something they ultimately reveal with their perennial closing song, “You Made Me Realize”. The original song is about 3 1/2 minutes long, but live, they play the first verse and chorus, then they peel back the melody and harmony, and just let the noise roar, a deafening squall of white noise that lasts for – literally – 20 minutes, the band leaning into the sound, the drummer pounding away. Seriously, a humongous roar of sound, 20 minutes of howling. Your brain struggles to organize it – you start to hear voices welling up inside the sound, waves of chanting and droning, but mostly it’s about the physicality, the sheer mass of noise pounding you.
What makes it harder is that light is blasted into the audience at maximum intensity, strobes and spots, impossibly bright, blindingly bright. There’s a vague feeling of short-circuiting inside you, your body and brain kind of melting under the pressure. It feels great, intensely great.
All in all, a fantastic night, even more fantastic than I’ve made it sound!
A quieter moment:
A louder moment: