The Jesus And Mary Chain
Phoenix Concert Theatre
May 1 2015
It may be difficult in the post-punk era of such purveyors of noise music as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, and My Bloody Valentine to appreciate how ground-breaking and even shocking the debut album by Glasgow's Jesus And Mary Chain was. Released in November of 1985, Psychocandy delivered thick layers of distorted guitars, distant vocals, primitive percussion playing and a surprisingly sweet underlay of Phil Spector inspired catchiness. Not since the Velvet Underground's self-titled 1967 debut had a group made such an impact with a collision of seething aggression and timeless melodies. Psychocandy landed firmly on many "year's best albums" lists and regularly shows up on 80's-centric critics' and fans' polls.
For the 30th anniversary of the landmark album's release, The Jesus And Mary Chain launched a quick nine date North American tour to perform the complete piece of work live.
The tour's opening night in Toronto began with lead vocalist Jim Reid explaining that the band were going to play a brief selection of tunes, then after a short break would return to present Psychocandy in it's complete form to the sweaty sold-out audience. The half-hour, seven song mini-set included the great 1986 single "Some Candy Talking" (released shortly after the Psychocandy album so considered to be from the same era) and it's B-side the song "Psychocandy" itself (which does not appear on the record of the same name). Also played were "April Skies" from 1987's Darklands , Automatic 's "Head On" (1989) and an intense "Reverence" from 1992's Honey's Dead album.
After literally a less than five minute intermission, the massive drumbeat intro to "Just Like Honey" invigorated the packed crowd. Like clockwork, the musicians ran through the album in full with squalls of feedback from William Reid's overdriven guitars and excellent lead vocals from his younger brother.
The fifty minute gig consisted solely of the fourteen song track listing from the original album but with a dramatic presentation via projected visuals and Jim Reid's sullen stage presence. In the show's only slight misstep, "My Little Underground" took a bit to get to full momentum after a false start. Compared to the controversial riot inspiring concerts of 1985, this moment was actually quite quant.
Thirty years on will do that to you. And your audience.