The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Academy, Dublin, on March 31st 2017
The Jesus and Mary Chain has always been a volcanic rock’n’roll band, likely to explode and/or implode at the drop of a hat onstage or off. Indeed, it was this zeal for self-destruction that originally prompted Creation Records to sign them in the first place.
It’s for this very reason that 19 years between album seams entirely reasonable. Indeed ‘Damage and Joy’ is a suitably succinct description of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s career to date and tonight we witness both Damage and Joy individually and collectively.
Much like a classic car, The Reid Brothers spluttered and coughed several times before they hit their stride – well at least William did. It must be very frustrating for singer Jim and band to be sharing a stage with the clumsy error prone genius that is William Reid – on the one hand he lays down imperious, cascading swaths of feedback like Einstein playing with a distortion pedal, but on the other it often seems he’s forgotten which song exactly it is he’s playing. Cues are visibly missed, and integral guitar parts are assaulted. A misfired All Thing Pass is halted and reattempted with Jim passing off the faux pas with the word of Homer Simpson: “D’oh”.
Bernadette Denning duets with Jim on current single Always Sad and later on Just Like Honey, but the decision not to perform the band’s last seminal song, Sometimes Always, when they have a female vocalist at hand is a sad oversight on their behalf.
It’s far from all bad though, because when William is coherent they group are on fire. Amputation blasts the set into life,and The Living End and Taste of Cindy get the type of renditions the classic tracks deserve, impassioned and beautifully deranged.
Reverence was perhaps the highlight of the set, combining just the right amount or controlled explosions of sound and the thoroughly impressive Jim Reid delivering his vocal with venomous aplomb.
The Jesus and Mary Chain delivered plenty of damage, with just enough joy on the side to keep the audience on side.