The Jesus and the Mary Chain
Spectrum Now festival
March 5, 2016
Blasphemous name - check!
Leather-clad insolence - check!
Tumultuous, short live performances - check!
The power of myth - check!
Distortion and swagger - check!
Paying homage yet simultaneously opposing traditional Californian ‘60s pop melodies à la Shangri-La's with gritty, orchestrated, beautiful feedback drenched noise NYC / Velvet Underground-style - check!
Stir the ingredients and voilà - dinner is served: An instant cult band.
Despite being heralded as "the new Sex Pistols" 31 years ago when their seminal album Psychocandy was released, the Jesus and the Mary Chain was not exactly considered a noted live act.
Their distorted amorphous guitars, subdued vocals and detached, reticent stage demeanor would have been an example par excellence for what was initially devised by the British music as a gibe meant to ridicule the stage presence of "shoegazing" acts. That has changed.
In 2016 and with Psychocandy having become an ever-influential part of the canon of independent music and comprising the cornerstones of what was to become the essence of the alternative movement of the 1990s, Jim and William Reid flanked by a well-oiled new lineup and having grown into a professional, full-on rock band, take a well deserved, deafening and blinding victory lap.
Drowned in tides of feedback and a light show that proved to be an additional band member and almost as integral to the show as the music, the band pulled a Benjamin Button and started with the encore:
The prelude of the show, which was longer than their performances in the mid-‘80s, was comprised of a best-of segment with songs from their other albums, before celebrating Psychocandy in its entirety and original sequence.
While the element of surprise as far as the set list was concerned was lacking, it was interesting to be able to compare samples of the band's earlier and later oeuvre with their much-lauded oeuvre.
The audience lapped it up and, despite the fact that a good share of the attendees were old enough to remember JAMC from their heydays, it was not merely an exercise in nostalgia: JAMC's DNA has retained its potency.
The Jesus and the Mary Chain in 2016 neither tries to perform a note-for-note rendition of their classics nor tries to rehash what they were like 30 years ago.
The performance whets one's appetite for JAMC's new album, which apparently has already been recorded.
Photos by KAVV