From East Kilbride to East Sussex, from The Barrowland's Ballroom last week to Bexhill-On-Sea this, The Jesus And Mary Chain's biggest tour for decades played out its penultimate UK gig (until September) in the resplendence of The De La Warr Pavilion. Hot on the back of their seventh studio album release, 'Damage And Joy', and their recent BBC6Music Festival appearance The Jesus And Mary Chain played to an appreciative, sold out, crowd.
With their first new album out in twenty years, a bunch of well received live dates behind them in recent years and a cooling off of sibling fractiousness The Jesus And Mary Chain took to the stage of this Modernist master piece. The band book ended the gig with songs from 'Damage And Joy' and filled the space in between with a set list that rang out like a greatest hits call to arms.
The opening track of their latest album unleashed the band on the expectant audience. With a joyously devilish squall and a tectonic bass, 'Amputation', the first single lifted off the album, kicked in. The noise was immense and the experience of witnessing the Mary Chain at full tilt again was nothing short of incredible. They followed on by stepping back some thirty years to 1987 with Jim and William's highest charting single, 'April Skies'. With a trademark vocal nonchalance and sensational, ground breaking, guitar the brothers Reid set the gig up as if they'd never been away. Pixies favourite, 'Head On', 'Far Gone And Out' and 'Blues From A Gun' followed before the band returned to their new material.
Somewhat apologetically Jim announced that "We're gonna have a couple of songs from the new record now". He shouldn't have worried. The band's latest single, 'Always Sad', cut through and immediately connected. The conversational lyrical exchange and slightly softer (than the majority of the gig) arrangement showcased the band to great effect in their newest guise. The crisp female vocal acted as a fabulous foil to Jim's Scots drawl and Will's frenetic guitar score. The dark, brooding menace of 'Mood Rider' maintained the forward facing focus of the first half hour.
'Teenage Lust' and a truly brilliant, mesmerising and melodic, take on 'Cherry Came Too' set up a full on rendition of Psychocandy's, 'The Hardest Walk', before The Mary Chain retuned to 'Damage And Joy' again. Rather surprisingly (and very possibly sacrilegiously), to me at least, the new material worked just as well, if not better than some of the older songs. The delivery, arrangement and infectious energy of the most anthemic Mary Chain song in years, 'All Things Pass', was definitely a gig highlight. The exquisite chords of 'Some Candy Talking', 'Halfway To Crazy' and an epic 'Reverence' closed out the opening hour with Jim signing off, "That's the last song for now....come on, you know how this works......we go off, you make some noise...."
The crowd duly obliged; noise was made and The Jesus And Mary Chain returned for an awesome six track encore. 'Nine Million Rainy Days' set up a wonderful rendition of 'Just Like Honey', 'You Trip Me Up' and an explosive, thunderous and totally wired, 'The Living End' to once again affirm (Not that it was needed) the seminal early work of the band on their breathe taking first album, 'Psychocandy'. With the gig drawing to its close Jim signed off...."This really is the last song" he said, "We've got a new album out right now and we're gonna leave you with a song from it.....don't panic!" An extended, 'War On Peace', closed out the Mary Chain's set in style. The slow considered build meandered along with menacing intent until the magnificent tormented break.
The signature sound of The Jesus And Mary Chain in full flight is a true joy to behold. The last time I saw the band was more years ago than both they and I would care to remember. Back then they played out a machine gun set in double time. The gig lasted no more than twenty minutes, there was no crowd interaction or engagement and the whole thing felt like it could destroy itself with the raw potent energy it unleashed. 2017 sees the band take a different stance on the whole experience. Back then The Mary Chain literally couldn't give a F**k if the crowd enjoyed it. Now they clearly do. However, some things, thankfully, don't change. All the reasons that made their early shows so intense and so memorable have not been lost in the intervening years. The absolutely incredible, individual, at one time unique, sound that the band generate is a thing of wonder. Truly, white noise never sounded so good. Just as the venue, 'Built in 1935, Modern ever since' so too the band, formed in 1983, relevant ever since. Catch them if you can. The Jesus And Mary Chain live is a gig you need to see at least once in your life time.