On Tuesday, September 11, The Jesus and Mary Chain came to the Paradise Rock Club.
The show was not much more than 75 minutes worth of songs plucked from one of the most influential catalogs of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
It was a show by The effin Jesus & Mary Chain, for chrissakes, and that was all it needed to be.
Brothers Jim and William Reid weren’t trying to move units of their new record, as they do not have one. Nor were they on some storytelling nostalgia tour replete with (affects Scottish brogue) “When we recorded this song…” flashbacks. Nor, finally, were they jumping on the play-the-generally-recognized-best-album-of-your-career-live bandwagon by performing Psychocandy top to bottom.
As gimmicky and tacky as the idea of playing a landmark album in its entirety may seem, it actually works more often than not, and definitely would have for The Jesus & Mary Chain.
Well-groomed singer Jim Reid was quite the professional. On no fewer than three occasions, he stopped the band and made them start over when he thought that something sounded off. In fact, they were no more than a few seconds into the feedback that bled into the opening number (“Snakedriver“) when Jim blurted out “Ah, fuck.” Requests for the guys to “stop and re-tune” and to “start again” truncated the initial attempts at “Some Candy Talking” and “Reverence,” the latter of which included a shout-out to a hometown boy in the lyric “I wanna die just like JFK.”
The fact that Jim was wearing a Monkees T-shirt was a clue that he didn’t take himself too seriously. As for William, well, he looks like he still sticks a wet finger into a light socket before each show.
The more playful side of The JAMC shone through beautifully in “Sidewalking,” and their obvious kinship with their American cousins The Pixies was evident in “Head On,” which The Pixies themselves later covered. “Cracking Up,” “Happy When It Rains,” and “Halfway to Crazy” also contributed generously to the intensity of the proceedings.
There is nothing innately wrong with elaborate lights and stages, frequent interaction with the paying customers, or non-stop setlists with multiple crowd-pleasing encores. When you’re The Jesus & Mary Chain, however, 17 songs and just enough time in which to play them suffices quite well.