“The Unbreakable Jesus And Mary Chain”
Written by Jason Reed
October 20, 2017
2017 has been a huge year for fans of the The Jesus And Mary Chain (JAMC). Their first album in nearly two decades entitled “Damage and Joy,” (released in March) has been met with adoring praise by fans and music critics alike (including this intrepid music journalist). This year has also brought not one, but two world tours, with shows quickly selling out. It was with these exciting realities that I was grateful to be able to see them perform last night at The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA on the first show of their current North American tour.
Cold Cave opened up the night with frontman Wesley Eisold kicking out his dark wave post-punk charm and synthy stylings during his substantial ten song set. Their sound is a satisfying blend of varying aesthetic elements of Joy Division, New Order, Interpol and Satisfact. Having seen Cold Cave perform a few years ago with Gary Numan I have to say that their music sounded much more engaging during this performance and I’m eager to see them again in the future given their apparent ascendancy.
JAMC took to the stage to rapturous applause, with singer Jim Reid (admittedly a man of few words when it comes to small talk) gracefully diving into the opening lines of their stellar track “Amputation” with the lyrics ,”Tryna win your interest back, but you ain’t having none of that.” No words could have been less accurate, given the audience’s admittedly resolute and unfailing interest in this legendary band.
Guitarist William Reid stood in a veritable cocoon of amplifiers and monitors, looking not unlike a scientist in a lab, concocting reverb laden guitar licks with the precision and care of a chemist mixing volatile substances that, if mixed precisely, could provide the cure for any musical ailments afflicting the audience.
The Reid brothers were in top form, laconic and cool as always (after all, it just wouldn’t be the JAMC if the guys grinned and jumped around onstage like some Glaswegians on molly trying to resurrect the Madchester scene). Unlike many bands of that ilk, JAMC has aged like a fine wine and are worthy of continued adoration. Their laid back coolness has only increased, making them the stuff of legends.
Highlights of the show included new tracks “All Things Pass” and “Always Sad,” along with fan favorites “Just Like Honey,” “April Skies” and the bat out of hell, wall of sound encore of “I Hate Rock ‘N Roll.” Speaking of “wall of sound,” I should also add that their performance was very loud (and that’s saying a lot given my already impaired hearing from years of live concerts) so be sure to bring earplugs if rattling eardrums may be a concern for you. Further contributing to the audiovisual spectacle on display, the abundant use of strobe lights also cast a spell on the audience, mesmerizing those who weren’t able to avert their eyes during the gripping set. As cautionary flyers posted at the venue door attested to, this was not a show for fans prone to seizure disorders. Like all things in life worthy of pursuit, seeing the JAMC live is something that people should do with their eyes figuratively “wide open” while also narrowing one’s eyelids a bit to accommodate varying tolerance levels.
One of the most appealing things about JAMC is their ability to consistently produce an unwavering signature sound (regardless of the particular song or the decade in which it was originally written). That characteristic was on full display throughout the 22 song, double encore show. The set felt on point, with no identifiable filler or weak tracks to be found, making the entire performance an undeviatingly spellbinding experience.
To stay up on all things JAMC, and to order a copy of their stellar new album “Damage & Joy,” check out their official site at http://thejesusandmarychain.uk.com/