The Jesus and Mary Chain @Manchester Academy [REVIEW]
ALEJANDRO DE LUNA
The grandeur of a group like The Jesus and Mary Chain goes beyond pop charts and the mainstream apparatus. The legacy is unquestionable. The disarrayed sound of the group remains relevant and untouched by trivialities, even after more than 30 years. If we would live in a fair world that values artistry over simulated rockstars, the Reid brothers could have been as big as U2, but the Scottish brotherhood never played the kiss-ass card or focused on banalities and media commitments. Instead, and aside of internal frictions and autodestructive habits, they concentrated efforts on crafting a raw and gloomy sound enhanced by layers of unhinged distortion and pop melodies with a Phil Spectorian aura revamped by alienation, menace and rock ‘n’ roll corrosion.
“I’m a rock ‘n’ roll amputation”, sings Jim Reid in the opening song at Manchester Academy’s sold-out gig. This tour is different than the previous ones. It represents the first time that The Jesus and Mary Chain hit the road with a new album in almost 20 years. New treats like ‘Always Sad’, ‘All Things Pass’, ‘Mood Rider’ or ‘War On Peace’ offer a quintessential Mary Chain sound that flow effortlessly with the group’s influential catalogue. Damage and Joy is an extension of a severely important legacy instead of being a money-grabbing return with nothing to offer.
Fan favourites like ‘April Skies’, ‘Head On’, ‘Reverence’, ‘The Hardest Walk’ or ‘Blues From A Gun’ stress out the ability of The Jesus and Mary Chain to create muddy pop anthems adorned by defiant levels of feedback, fierce guitar playing and an hypnotic rhythmic section — songs that unfortunately never received the commercial exposure that they deserved.
If Jim Reid‘s monotonous and afflictive singing sets the melancholic and vintage tone, William Reid is the true hero of The Jesus and Mary Chain. His savage and primitive guitar sound lacerates the venue and reminds us that in rock ‘n’ roll, imagination and rage are better than virtuosity and technicality. William Reid takes the same path traced previously by his hero and rock ‘n’ roll misfit Ron Asheton (The Stooges) and turns the venue into a place of reverb fixation and sonic messiness.
The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s chaotic years that are part of some of the greatest stories in rock ‘n’ roll might be over, but the group from East Kilbride remain as one of the most exciting live experiences to ever come out of the darkened and abandoned corners of the nineteen hateies.