The Jesus and Mary Chain Leave Them Jubilant at Terminal 5September 25th, 2015
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Terminal 5 – September 24, 2015
Psychocandy, the Jesus and Mary Chain’s transformative debut album came out in 1985, at a time when punk and dirty rebel rock as a manifestation of the angst of urban blight had slowed down as a movement, mirroring the societal and cultural shift that had taken place between the late ’70s and early ’80s. Discordant, fuzzed-out guitar music had given way to sentimental synth pop, and two brothers from East Kilbride, Scotland, decided to do something about it. The down and out, disaffected lot needed something to identify with again. Psychocandy was the response, and it became a benchmark for generations of music that represented young people in the throes of reality, not the cushiness of fantasy. Thirty years later, the brothers Jim Reid and William Reid have left the disharmony of their past behind and have reunited to perform the whole album in concert.
Terminal 5 was the setting for their reenactment last night. Age and a history of tumultuous performance experiences have taught the brothers the importance of taking things seriously onstage, to honor a piece of music so widely praised by playing it with conviction for the people it was meant to represent in the first place, people just like them. Back when Psychocandy was released, the apathy and immaturity of its creators made for a sloppy, hastened performance of its songs, drawing the ire of its fans. The brothers Reid had lamented that a good deal of the album was never even played live, and so this tour of reprise was meant to apply the same intent to its live show that was applied during its original recording. The result was the equivalent of a remastered album with the instrumentation of current band members, Phil King, Brian Young and Mark Crozer, so true that I felt like a witness to an enhanced playback of the studio mastery that spawned it.
William Reid’s guitar squalor reminded everyone just how influential the Jesus and Mary Chain’s sound was. And with a presence both poised and reserved, Jim Reid delivered his vocals as if no time had passed, convincingly harnessing the slack drone of his youth. The Jesus and Mary chain have come a long way from sneaking in, uninvited, to play opening sets amidst the grunge of ’80s Scotland. Thirty years later at Terminal 5 in New York City, the fans were left jubilant, some voicing that this was the best they’ve ever heard the band live. Making their purpose known right away with “Head On” and “Some Candy Talking,” the Jesus and Mary Chain killed it even before a flawless rendition of a legendary album in magnificent form. And 30 years later, the fans were left in jubilation. —Charles Steinberg