My Bloody Valentine wrapped its triumphant reunion tour last night (Oct. 2) in Santa Monica, Calif., its seven North American shows (all sell-outs) drawing nearly 26,000 people, generating well more t
My Bloody Valentine wrapped its triumphant reunion tour last night (Oct. 2) in Santa Monica, Calif., its seven North American shows (all sell-outs) drawing nearly 26,000 people, generating well more than $1 million in gross and battering eardrums from New York to L.A.
And that's not counting another 3,000 fans who packed into an upstate New York resort to watch MBV perform and curate the All Tomorrow's Parties festival the weekend of Sept. 19, an event so successful that tickets are already on sale for its 2009 edition.
Following a 1992 tour, MBV basically dropped off the face of the earth. But some in the biz held out hope for a return to activity, particularly Frank Riley, who was the band's booking agent at Monterey Peninsula Artists. When he left to open High Road Touring in 2001, he kept MBV on his active roster for three years on the off chance Shields would call one day. Offers would occasionally come in, including a longstanding invitation from Goldenvoice's Paul Tollett for the band to headline the Coachella festival, "but there was no indication Kevin was interested in doing that," Riley says.
Then a year-and-a-half ago, "I got a phone call from Kevin saying [touring] was something they were thinking about," Riley recalls. "In a weird way, it wasn't that much of a surprise." (Shields declined to be interviewed for this story.)
Tollett came in with an enormous offer for the band to play the 2008 festival, which would have made it financially feasible for Shields to re-form and properly equip MBV. But the band wasn't ready to take the stage by late April, so Shields opted instead to team with All Tomorrow's Parties co-founder Barry Hogan for an opening salvo of U.K. dates starting in June, followed by some international festival appearances. MBV also agreed to headline the New York ATP show and then build a short North American tour around it.
Then came the hard part: Riley had to figure out the proper venues for a band that hadn't toured here since the first Bush administration.
"The most important thing for MBV was making sure that whatever they did sounded great," Riley says. "That requires a certain amount of equipment and power and volume and staging. I had to find venues that could accommodate that. Next, I had to consider which markets could fully support something within those sound specifications, which included no dB limits, an open floor in front of the stage and a certain capacity that could generate the income necessary to make the thing affordable."
Playing for a guarantee sources say was six figures not counting sizable merch sales, MBV laid waste to audiences with crushingly loud 90-minute sets, each of which ended with the wall-rattling feedback barrage "You Made Me Realise." "It sounded like a plane crashed at 300 miles per hour for 25 minutes," says Adam Fleming, who marketed the show at the San Francisco Design Center. In Chicago, MBV played the Aragon Ballroom, which is "four times the size of the venue we did on the 1992 tour, and it sold out in a day. It was one of the more exciting things I've seen in awhile," says Jam Productions VP of concerts Andy Cirzan.
Shields admitted to the New York Times that he spent more than $360,000 preparing for the shows, which means MBV won't wind up with a lot of take-home pay this time around. But the stage is now set for more touring, and much bigger paydays, at some point down the road. Riley will only say, "With the success of what they've accomplished, I think they'll consider additional dates in the future." Hogan adds, "It would be foolish to not continue. People want to see more of it."
With the tour finished and the prospect of new MBV material looming (Shields told the Times he plans to complete an aborted third album and then start another one), Riley says the situation is "entirely unique. The band is still together enough and capable enough to go back and reconnect with their music and then maybe find out that there's a larger audience for them now than there was all that time ago."