live review

The Jesus And Mary Chain

The Jesus And Mary Chain

March 04 2016
The Powerstation, Auckland

Reviewed by Faz Mottram
7th March 2016

Haze, fuzz, and fun. Noisy fun. The Jesus and Mary Chain do this pretty well. Thirty years on the band have reunited to play through their enduring album Psychocandy.

Curiously the band open the show with a ‘preemptive’ encore before they dig into the prestigious album. This includes a diverse range of songs, such as 90s club banger, 'Reverence', which has a great danceable rhythm, and the band’s first-ever released single,' Upside Down', with its ridiculous amounts of feedback.

'Just Like Honey' is definitely a great album opener, and those first distinctive drum kicks are instantly recognised by the crowd. People watch attentively from The Powerstation’s second level parapets - the excitement swells, and then the guitar notes break out, followed with enthusiastic cheering from the crowd.

Jim Reid’s gaunt and angular pose is suitably fitting to the music. He doesn’t get carried away. He gives sporadic glances to his brother William, who is segregated to one side of the stage by himself, commanding two cyclopean guitar amps which administer that trademark JAMC noise direct to the crowd.

The band are rigid on stage, spectral and brooding in the haze and lights. Jim has little dialogue with the crowd. This is a straight to the point, regimental set which provides an impetus to propulsive songs such as ‘The Living End’. With its nihilistic narcissism, Jim bellows "And I’m in love with myself, There’s nothing else but me". The lyrics are appropriately reflective of the bands aesthetics and image.

The frantic and direct ‘In A Hole’ is another real crowd-pleaser, with its driving drums and catchy bassline. A song that evokes complete recklessness to its listener.

There is an element of tragedy in the music too, and this is most apparent in the song 'Something’s Wrong' - one of the more memorable songs of the night. The guitar is thin, grating, yet delicate; Jim chants an ethereal "do do dooo" alongside it - a haunting lullaby.

Their sound is undeniably discernible. Some songs are simple, yet effective pop melodies, others are harsh and punishing, and almost all are ‘complemented’ with cascading guitar commotion. The haze and fuzz of Reid’s guitar exists on another sphere, fading in and out between songs, making some parts almost indistinguishable. This is the special formula for Psychocandy, and confronting it live convinces you of its deserved place in the annals of alternative rock.

Overall The Jesus and Mary Chain produce a detached yet devoted performance - this isn’t a money-grab reunion tour. Psychocandy represents a positive nihilism; withdrawn, yearning, and fun-seeking, and is equally relevant now as it would have been back in 1985.

The Jesus And Mary Chain
The Jesus And Mary Chain

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