We heard that The Jesus and Mary Chain were heading to Bath to spread the word about their latest album Damage and Joy, the last time we saw them live was in 1991 when they hit Exeter University accompanied by My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr and BLUR so we HAD to be there!
But just WHO are The Jesus and Mary Chain? well, allow me to provide a history of them for you.
Originally called The Poppy Seeds, and then Death of Joey, they initially told journalists that they had taken their eventual name from a line in a Bing Crosby film, although six months later they admitted that this wasn't true. Other accounts suggest that the name derived from an offer on a breakfast cereal packet, where customers could send off for a gold "Jesus and Mary chain".
Hailing from East Kilbride in 1983, brothers Jim and William Reid signed to Alan McGee's Creation Records prior to releasing their first single "Upside Down" in 1984 which topped the UK Indie Chart in February 1985 though it was their debut album Psychocandy that really put them on the map. After a number of riotous performances, a banned single on BBC Radio 1 and a tour of the United States and Japan, they returned to the UK and released their second long player Darklands after parting company with Mcgee's Creation Records. Fast forward a few years which saw Canadian court cases, a number of compilation albums and their third, fourth, fifth and sixth studio albums the band parted company.
In 2007, they played the Coachella Music Festival and released a 4-CD box set entitled The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities. The box set consists of material from the Barbed Wire Kisses, The Sound of Speed and The Jesus And Mary Chain Hate Rock 'n' Roll compilations, alongside unreleased tracks and rarities from throughout their career; including early performances, unheard demos, re-mixes, alternate versions of some songs and bootleg recordings.
In 2010, a greatest hits album, Upside Down: The Best of The Jesus and Mary Chain, was released, this was followed 3 years later in 2013, with a vinyl box set, dubbed as The Complete Vinyl Collection, which was released for the band's 30th anniversary. In March 2014 the band signed back to Alan McGee and became the first artists to sign to the newly reformed Creation Management. They announced November 2014 dates in the UK to debut the performance of Psychocandy Live, which toured through 2015 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album's release.
In September 2015, Jim Reid announced that the band were recording their first studio album since 1998. The album titled Damage and Joy was released on 24 March 2017 and that ladies and gentlemen is a quick overview of The Jesus and Mary Chain, now back to The Komedia venue in Bath to get the low down on the show....
Opening the evening's entertainment was a Wales based quintet called Chain of Flowers, their songs were full of ringing guitar riffs, driving bass, drums and keys, complemented by a singer who sounded (and at sometimes, looked) like a cross between Robert Smith and Brett Anderson. Whilst the band remained rooted to their spots, the singer swayed and writhed around his microphone stand, kicking the air, looking like he was having the time of his life.
They oozed confidence, coming across really well to what was a much more mature audience than they're used to playing to (they last played at MOLES in Bath to a bunch of 14 year olds). The standout moment from the set for me was a tremendous track called "Nail Me to a Cross" which really was a full on assault on the senses. Watch out for this band as I have a funny feeling that they're going to be huge someday soon.
After a half hour break, the lights dipped and on walked the main act, Jim and William Reid looked cool and composed as they broke into their first offering "Amputation", lifted from their recently released Damage and Joy LP. They took things back a few years with "Happy When it Rains" and followed this with the awesome "Head On" which allowed them to shift into full on head down 'Shoegaze' mode.
Aided by blinding white strobe lighting, the band poured through a 90 minute set, consisting of 22 tracks that spanned their entire career, this wasn't just a show, it was a more like a 'Greatest Hits' tour and by the looks of the crowd, they were savouring every second.
Their newer material sounded divine, gone was the brash wall of fuzz that slapped you in the face in the early days and in came waves of warm, soft loveliness which caressed your senses with the trademark reverb heavy guitar which really was a joy to be seen and heard.
"Some Candy Talking" came along towards the end of the initial set and sounded as immediate tonight as it did back in the day when they first set out on their musical journey, bringing on board a hoard of fans along the way who have remained loyal to this day.
They ended 'Act 1' with "Reverence" which upped the ante somewhat with its guitar fuelled melodies whilst Jim sang "I want to die just like Jesus Christ, I want to die on a bed of spikes", this really set the crowd off and thankfully, they said that they'd be back on after a short break.....otherwise, I could see riotous events occurring just like the early days!
They were joined on stage by a young lady (sorry folks, I don't know who it was) for "Just Like Honey" and together, they performed it brilliantly, this has to be one of my all time favourites from JAMC.
After a couple of attempts at "Cracking Up", they lost their way and Jim apologised saying, "We managed to pull it off perfectly in rehearsals" but soon won the crowd back with a tremendous performance of "In a Hole" lifted from their debut album.
They took a second break and returned to the stage just as people were starting to leave (and hastily took their positions once again) and launched into their final offerings, "Sidewalking" and "I Hate Rock 'n Roll" which took the roof off the venue and had the crowd demanding more come the end. By this time, it was clear that there was to be no more and the band left the stage for the final time.
I read reviews from other dates on the tour and on many occasions, I saw that they picked up on the fact that Jim didn't converse much with the audience, I felt that he did a great job of keeping things together, announcing new material and even slipping in the odd one liner to satisfy the hecklers, which, compared to the 'early days' when they would shuffle on stage, play for 20 minutes with their backs to the audience, was a real improvement!
The show was very much enjoyed by this reviewer and I have already ordered the back catalogue on vinyl so I can relive my youth (well, whatever I can salvage of it), I strongly recommend that you do the same.
Happy When it Rains
Black and Blues
Far Gone and Out
Cherry Came Too
All Things Pass
Some Candy Talking
Halfway to Crazy
Just Like Honey
In a Hole
War on Peace
I Hate Rock 'n Roll
Psychocandy - 3
Darklands - 3
Automatic - 3
Munki - 1
Honey's Dead - 3
Barned Wirte Kisses - 1
Hate Rock 'n Roll - 2
Damage and Joy - 6
For more images from the show, click on the links below;
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Rhodri Cooper