The Jesus & Mary Chain

Glasgow Barrowlands

Sunday 23d November


Bible John’s sinister eidolon may well have been present among the number of dark-clothed profiles wandering through Jim Lambie’s album pathway at Barrowland Park, as Glasgow sons The Jesus and Mary Chain returned to the holiest of grounds in the Gallowgate area. Tonight’s gig at the Barrowlands was to commemorate the Mary Chain’s seminal-debut album Psychocandy, released in 1985. The unique scaffold-clanging, abrasive, chaotic and foggy havoc created by the brothers Jim and William Reid was a welcome release from the New Romantic scene forcing Simon Le Bon’s warbles on to the unsuspecting world. The brooding sexuality in the lyrics of songs such as Taste The Floor could almost pass for describing JAMC’s own blueprint for assaulting the music industry:

Here it comes.

Can’t you hear the sound of it?

Just like a big brass drum

and some cunts always scratching it?

This was never going to be a gig greeted by tribes of neon-stitched adolescents, but one would have expected a healthy share of fresh-faced music-goers after the ascent of contemporary bands such as The XX, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Crocodiles – all of whom owe a debt to the distinctive gloomy spell conjured up by the Mary Chain during the mid-1980s. Instead, it was largely an audience with whom the band has grown up with, and this could perhaps explain the pacific stance adopted by much of the crowd; or perhaps Sunday nights really does remove something from the live circuit.

Mercifully, it did not take away the performance on show. Strobe lights coruscating through every set of eyes, William Reid’s sonic assault of the senses during You Trip Me Up that would still be ringing when daylight arrives, flares of feedback on songs such as Never Understand, and all the while Jim Reid standing with one hand gripped on the microphone, either spitting attitude on the crowd or lurking around the carnival of strings behind him. It was all just as it should be. Perhaps unfairly, the Mary Chain’s pop sensibility has often been overlooked and beguiling songs such as Just Like Honey and (the originally omitted from the first album) Some Candy Talking reminded the Barrowlands crowd just how bright the Reid brothers can be when it comes to crafting universal pop melodies – should the notion grab them.

The current five-piece Mary Chain have a good, solid understanding: Minimal chat, tight sound, and occasionally look up from your instrument at the audience. As a drummer for the band, Brian Young must wonder if he is in the greatest or the worst job in the world as pedals and cymbals are suitably whipped into a repetitive babel for the crowd to jerk and judder to. The drums intro for Sowing Seeds almost tricked the audience into believing Just Like Honey was being repeated, only for Jim’s controlled vocal to throw their adoring public off centre.

As the night dissolved your reviewer into a perspiring, bouncing shambles clinging to the front barrier (Speakers directly in front and promising future health issues), the Mary Chain left the stage without an encore despite a short and strange interval half-way through the set; the blinking crowd ushered to leave by the dazzling house lights. Sweated foreheads had turned grey hairs black once more, and a number of revellers couldn’t resist picking up a half-price t-shirt or poster outside the main entrance after being reminded exactly how fantastic their youth had been. It’s a nice thought to think that a number of Glasgow households will once again be adorned with posters of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s sneering faces upon their walls; in a frame, of course. FOUR STARS


Reviewer : Stephen Watt

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