Gig review: Jesus and Mary Chain – O2 Academy, Leeds

It’s not until six songs into their set, during a fearsome ‘Reverence’, that The Jesus and Mary Chain finally gel.

By Susan Darlington
Thursday, 19th February 2015, 11:29 pm

The brittle shards of feedback generated by William Reid, who’s lurking at the back of the stage, sweep away the disinterest and sense of comfort that’s stultified the previous songs.

This mesmerising wall of sound continues into ‘Upside Down’, the volume on all instruments turned up to 11, and the audience are beginning to warm up to their ear-splintering majesty when the five-piece silently skulk off stage.

Just as people are debating whether that’s the end of the gig – a return to the band’s days of notoriously riotous sets – a grainy clip from ‘Town Of Tomorrow’ starts to spool. An archive promotional film from the brothers Reid’s native East Kilbride, it gradually burns into the cover art of Psychocandy, their influential debut album.

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The move signals the reappearance of the band, who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release by playing it in its glorious, black and blue entirely. Starting with the infamous Ronettes beat that opens ‘Just Like Honey’, it signals their love of girl group pop shredded through the Velvet Underground’s one chord blues.

The track’s vicious layers of feedback marks a darkening of atmosphere compared to their opening ‘encore’ set, which is matched by front-man Jim Reid’s mood as he furiously signals drummer Brian Young at one point and pauses ‘My Little Underground’ for no obvious reason.

It’s a gloominess that leaks into his deadpan vocals as he pours out pure romance like the best of Motown (to which ‘Never Understand’ is indebted). In common with the hit factory, these tracks rarely hang around: ‘Taste Of Cindy’ clocks in at under two-minutes while The Stooges-ape of ‘Inside Me’, the longest track played in this section, is a hefty three-minutes.

There’s nonetheless a suspicion that the overall set outstays its welcome. At just over an hour long the limitations of their melodiously fragile songwriting become obvious and, despite being a key influence on the likes of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, they lack the band’s sonic innovation.

Despite this drawback they just about prove that they’re still the premier moody feedback drenched band around as they exit the stage to an Atari style ‘Game Over’ graphic.