They’re Scottish and they make a hell of a noise – The Jesus and The Mary Chain need no introduction really. They have just brought us they’re latest album “Damage and Joy”, which they’re promoting in their live tour of the same name.
As I reach the venue, I am faced with a humongous queue to get in, one like I had never seen before. From the queue alone you could tell this was not going to be your regular show, as there was so many interesting characters you could write a review on them alone. I believe I need to mention the one who was trying to get in the old way, by sweet-talking the security and name dropping.
Once I was in, I was able to get a better reading on the crowd – there were the forever fans, more mature men who have been fans since day one and there was this interesting group of youngsters gathering at the front of the stage, right in the middle, who seemed overly excited to see the band.
There’s a big banner hanging at the back of the stage with the album cover – a bowl of tomato soup with pasta letters floating around spelling “Damage and Joy” and the show is about to start. Lights go out, fans scream with excitement and the band comes up on stage, with the lead singer Jim Reid posing backwards to the audience, as per their signature move. They open with a song from the new album “Amputation” which definitely gets the audience engaged with a reminiscence from their primordial sounds to their evolution point in 2017. With lyrics such as “I’m a rock and roll amputation”, reminiscing on their controversial past with mentions of drugged-up boys and crazy girls.
What follows is a perfect balance between old classics and new songs, making sure they keep the crowd engaged at all times, especially when singing the classics. They had to restart four old songs, making fun remarks on “how long it’s been since we’ve played this” and “let’s see if I remember this one, sorry, sorry”, leaving the fans with wide smiles on their faces, embracing their genuine and unapologetic ways. They announce they are about to sing the last song, “War On Peace” that combines powerful drums and a psychedelic light show, as it’s always been.
If you’re from a younger generation you’ll look at the stage and think “these guys look awfully lot like the characters in “Trainspotting”, whereas if you’re from an older generation you will feel back at home in the mid-80s psychedelic ‘fury’ times.
The band exits the stage but only to be lured back in by an eager crowd to an encore. As they come back on stage, they reposition themselves backwards to the audience, which is greeted with huge applause and they sing one of the most awaited songs of the night “Just Like Honey”. Although this song was released in 1985 in their first album “Psychocandy”, it was rubber stamped in 2003 by Sofia Coppola in her movie “Lost in Translation” as part of its official soundtrack. Everyone was singing along and there was this sweet smile on everyone’s mouths whilst shaking their heads to the sound of this mellow song. They finish their encore after five more songs, which left the fans feeling fulfilled and, if possible, even more in love with them.
Yes, they’ve been around for more than 30 years, yes they had a rough start with bad rep due to their rebel attitude towards their audience, record label and manager, but, they still are one of the most acclaimed classics born in the United Kingdom.
Many famous names passed through the group, such as Primal Scream’s own Bobby Gillespie, and in their early days they said they were influenced by The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Shangri-Las actually stating “We all love The Shangri-Las, and one day we’re going to make Shangri-Las records.” and the truth is, they did, they made them and keep making them, being now the inspirations to many new bands that start to surface into the horizon.
The Jesus and The Mary Chain have earned every single ounce of the status they carry nowadays, being considered one of the best bands of the last 50 years and that is one heavy title to carry, being placed alongside The Rolling Stones and Sex Pistols. No wonder they’re fan base keeps increasing and seems timeless.
The band is currently touring the UK, making their move overseas at the end of April, so make sure you go see them, nothing beats a good classic comeback, especially when you do it as well as these music giants.