On Sunday night I was lucky enough to witness one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years, The Jesus and Mary Chain. The band developed a reputation in the 80’s for performing “riot gigs” lasting 15minutes and inducing the crowd into a state of frenzy; while they may have mellowed over time, the music certainly has not. As the band took the stage, lead singer Jim Reid explained how the night would work; a quick run through of their greatest hits followed by a short intermission. They would then return to play their seminal debut album, Psychocandy, in full, in order, with no breaks.
The band then exited stage for what they described as a “tea-break” while a short film played out. As this ended, the band resumed position and the familiar drum beat of ‘Just Like Honey’ kicked in. Guitars shimmer and the melodic, 60’s pop vibe lull the crowd into a false sense of security, completely failing to prepare us for what was about to happen. Without pause for breath, the next 35minutes are stacked with 3 minute pop songs drenched in feedback and reverb. It is here where it is clear to see their influence on bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Reid’s deadpan vocals are barely audible beneath the punishing guitars. Smoke machines fill the stage, psychedelic visuals play out in the background and the crescendos are intensified by 10 strobes flashing in unison. Despite this, the crowd interest drops off somewhat during the middle segment of the set. This is only to be expected and is one of the drawbacks in playing an album in full. Reid clings to his microphone for dear life, lost in the intensity of the music around him. Fan favourite ‘Trip Me Up’ provokes jumping and moshing from the crowd as the noise continued to increase. And then, just like that they were gone, a polite ‘Thank You’ and ringing ears their parting gifts; not that that is a bad thing.
This was without doubt one of the loudest concerts I have been too, it is hard to put into words the sheer volume without experiencing it for yourself. While the musicians themselves have aged, music as good as this is timeless and when performed with such ferocity and intensity, it is a spectacle worth witnessing.
By Jack Rampling