Damage And Joy

An hour and a half in the company of The Jesus And Mary Chain is a good thing at the moment. They turned on their own brand of charm on Saturday night, sounding engaged, interested and on some sort of mission. The opening one-two-three of Amputation, April Skies and Head On set us up nicely for what followed- some hits, some album tracks and some new songs. They were ragged enough for it not to seem too drilled or professional- Jim had to speak to the audience in gap after the opener due to a technical problem with William’s sound and he ran out of things to say pretty quickly. They had three attempts at getting The Hardest Walk off the ground and at least one other song had a false start too. I like this slightly shambolic edge, it adds to the proceedings, reminds us of who they were. William’s guitar is loud in the mix, often overpowering the rest of the group except for Jim and the snare drum, and he peels off the chords and top lines from behind his mess of hair, backlighting and dry ice. Those three sounds are what I want from a Mary Chain gig- Jim’s voice, William’s guitar and some drums. Teenage Lust is heavy and dark. Darklands highlights Cherry Came Too and Nine Million Rainy Days sound brittle and menacing. Some Candy Talking is fuzzy and tense, building to a staccato end. Reverence is long and overdriven. The encore brings a mini-Psychocandy, Just Like Honey, The Living End, You Trip Me Up and Taste Of Cindy before finishing with War On Peace, another new one. This slow approach to the reunion has done them some good, not rushing in and pushing it. Making an album, by their own admission a stressful experience, and managing to remain on speaking terms shows some growth. These miserable, uncommunicative but maybe now slightly more grown up middle aged men have found a way to make it work. Long may they have the blues.

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Always Sad

The new Jesus And Mary Chain album is out today, not words I necessarily thought I’d end up typing when I started this blog. I’m reasonably excited about the new album, tempered slightly by the fact that seven of the fourteen songs have been recorded and released by one Reid brother or the other in previous post-split incarnations- I’ve heard half of the album before, but still, new Mary Chain is new Mary Chain. This single from February is one of the new new ones and is good enough. Tomorrow night they’re on at Manchester Academy and I shall be in attendance. Hopefully they’ll still cut it live- they certainly did on the Psychocandy tour a couple of years ago.

Dead End Kids

A new Jesus And Mary Chain single came out last week, the first in eighteen years it is claimed. This ignores All Things Must Pass which came out in 2010 and was on a Best Of… (which in the internet age almost counts as a single). It also ignored the fact that the new single, Amputation, is a re-recording with a new name of a Jim Reid solo single from 2006. Here it is…

Dead End Kids

I liked Dead End Kids, bought it on cd single and thought it was a decent song. A typical Jim Reid three chord riff and a typically Jim Reid lyric- ‘It’s wine today, it’s piss tomorrow’, ‘fucked up girls like fucked up boys’, ‘I’m a rock ‘n’ roll amputation’. The new version has some squally feedback at the start and reverb covered vox, a dirty guitar part on the chorus. But this release should have been a genuinely new song instead of a shrug and a sense of disappointment (which is what I felt). It’s not an All For One level disappointment. A milder disappointment. Ah well, hey ho. Still, tickets for the tour in March are on sale and they were very good when they toured Psychocandy two years ago.

We Can’t Wait Til June

If you’re going to do a cover, do it like this- rip it to shreds with volume and feedback and stick an American TV preacher over the end with the sound of breaking glass.

Surfin’ USA

Chilled To The Bone

It’s over a year since I lasted posted anything by the Reid brothers. Over a year! Slap my wrists and confiscate my scuffed suede Chelsea boots immediately. The video for Sidewalking came my way on social media the other day and what a truly great record it is, maybe their greatest. Released in March 1988, a stand alone single which marries industrial noise with hip hop drumbeats (sampled from Roxanne Shante) and lyrics about missing the last bus home. The extended version from the 12″ is double the length and double the fun.

Sidewalking (Extended)

And here’s the video.

And It Was Bliss

We had to run around in the car yesterday doing odds and ends pre-France holiday and rifling through the cd compartment I found The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1992 album Honey’s Dead. So I stuck it in and played it. The kids, also in the car, were delighted obviously.

There was an interview in Melody Maker when the lp was released where the Reid brothers admitted that they felt they’d almost been made obsolete by Madchester and that Honey’s Dead was a shot at reinvention and certainly some of the songs here have an early 90s sheen and the drums are looser than before. The title itself refers to killing off Honey, a trademark of the early years. Opener and leading single Reverence has never been my favourite JAMC song, despite its ominous rumble and controversial lyrics (banned by the Beeb). It was always good live but I can skip it on cd. Far Gone And Out is a good radio song. Teenage Lust is a decent approximation of its title. I’ve always liked Rollercoaster (resurrected and re-recorded from the four way tour with Blur, MBV and Dinosaur Jr). There’s a smattering of good album tracks as well. But this sounded stunning. I’ve always loved this song but I could nearly hear it with new ears yesterday.

Almost Gold must have been written the day William woke up in a good mood (or the day after he discovered ecstasy), a love song with hardly any self loathing or alienation, wide eyed and up and full of bliss.

‘I couldn’t give you more than this
I was born and it was bliss
I have died for a thousand years
Tasted salt of a thousand tears
And your kiss was almost gold’

Some Feedback

The Jesus And Mary Chain came on stage last night and announced they would play the encore first, then go off for a few minutes and return to play Psychocandy. They then launched into April Skies, Head On and Some Candy Talking, all crystal clear and fine, William’s guitar twice as loud as everything else put together, the occasional missed note or out of tune string not mattering a jot. Two more songs later they ramped up the noise with an massive version of Reverence. Two minutes and a bit after that they were off- having played Upside Down, loud and drenched in squealing feedback.

A brief public information film from the early 60s projected onto the stage wall advertised the pleasures of moving to East Kilbride and they reappeared with Just Like Honey. Then we got the rest of Psychocandy. The projections (biker gangs, Super 8 home video footage), strobes and dry ice splashed all over the stage, added some visual drama. There isn’t much to look at with The Mary Chain- five middle aged men dressed in black not moving much, apart from Jim occasionally lifting the mic stand up. At some reunion gigs you get a communion between band and audience, a mass singalong, arms around shoulders, joy at hearing songs you thought you’d never hear live again, beery good times, nostalgia. The Screamadelica shows were a joyous celebration. Not here. Psychocandy is an album about alienation and while the audience weren’t alienated, we stood and watched, apart from some sporadic moshing down the front. This was noise, feedback, earsplittingly loud, with Jim’s vocals and the melodies sneaking through the distortion, like in You Trip Me Up. The Living End and The Hardest Walk, garage riffs with a wall of ringing noise. As the band left the stage, William’s guitar bleeding loudly against his amp, Game Over, in 80s video game graphics, flashed up and down the back wall. Still alive, still kicking. Game Over.

Paris, Upside Down, a few nights ago.