Gig review: The Jesus And Mary Chain at The Church, Leeds

The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Jesus and Mary Chain
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Jim Reid is a master of understatement. “They’re just a bunch of rock chords,” he deadpans as brother William’s guitar shreds into a fade out.

The Jesus And Mary Chain’s singer is technically correct but these aren’t just any rock chords, they’re ones that have been steeped in the rich and dangerous history of rock’s pioneers and then been force fed candy.

This means that for every chord that’s been borrowed from The Ramones or The Stooges, as on ‘Between Planets’, another two have been mangled from The Shangri-Las or The Angels, as on ‘Cherry Came Too’.

It’s a dark and light rock vocabulary that’s echoed in the lyrics, which build on the teen themes established by Chuck Berry with their empty roads (‘The Living Dead’), angst (‘Blues From A Gun’), and girls (nearly every other song).

It’s an eternal teen dream that, over thirty years into their career, the brothers Reid should be too old to pass off. Yet while William’s mop of white hair testifies to the passage of time they seem to be reinvigorated by seventh album Damage And Joy, their first release since 1998.

New tracks ‘Mood Rider’ and ‘Always Sad’ – a duet with their occasional backing singer – lead to a mid-set lull, sounding like JAMC playing The Raveonettes playing JAMC, but elsewhere they maintain a sense of menace and visceral, dumb excitement.

“Reverence”’s taunt to polite society is a case in point, sounding all the more thrilling for Jim intoning “I wanna die just like Jesus Christ” under a biblical stained glass window. Backlit and only just visible through the murky atmosphere, he tonight makes a strong case for being another kind of saviour: that of rock ‘n’ roll.

Tom Robinson

Gig review: Tom Robinson at Unity Works, Wakefield