The trendsetting and trailblazing British rock outfit known as The Jesus & Mary Chain, who paved the way for so much of the darkly melon collie alt-rock to take over the industry in the late 80’s and early 90’s, encompassing bands from Pixies to Nirvana and beyond, finally returned to NYC this week as part of their huge Psychocandy 30th Anniversary Tour playing Terminal 5 for a pair of sold-out shows. Apart from reveling in the fame of that stunning 1985 debut, founding singer Jim Reid has also recently revealed that the band are working on a new LP as well, so it looks like we may the first JAMC album in almost 20 years to celebrate soon, but for tonight it was all about the nostalgia.
The opening band from Sydney called The Black Ryder exceedingly captivated me. They have a deeply brooding sound that starts by rattling the marrow of the bones then overtakes the whole soul with a slowly germinating psychedelic shoegaze brew. The multiple front people keep the harmonies fresh while building off the core songwriting duo of Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper. With a sound that wonders wistfully between Mazzy Star and Sigur Ros, you have a lot of time to wade into their expansive tracks before diving in, but once you do, it feels as though you could drown in their lush compositions. Their second LP The Door Behind the Door is out now and is definitely worth getting lost in.
Apart from the founding songwriting brother duo of singer Jim and guitarist William Reid, JAMC’s line-up has changing starkly since those hazy mid-80’s days, now consisting of longtime JAMC associate Phil King (formerly of Lush) on guitar, Mark Crozer on bass, and Brian Young (formerly of Fountains of Wayne) on drums. Since seeing them on their first reunion trip through the states a couple of years ago, I have noticed the band getting a bit looser and less bound by the strictness of getting a song perfectly recited from its studio original. Still, this is a band bound by an obsession of making things oh so perfect, and for that they did not disappoint.
Jim Reid started the set by letting the crowd know exactly how the gig will proceed, saying they would perform a selection of other songs from throughout their career first, then continue on to the celebrated debut of their band in a sort of encore first method. That they did, as they opened with “April Skies” from their second Darklands album, and followed that up with their seminal hit that is always sure to get a party started by the name of “Head On” from their third and carrying through with their chronological development with “Blues from a Gun.”
There was a rare track “Some Candy Talking” from an early EP by the same name and even their first single “Upside Down” ending the first mini-set, but nothing else through their catalogue past the 80’s. That did make me yearn for some of my 90’s favorites, but once again, nostalgia can be a fickle beast. Their reciting of Psychocandy went off without a hitch, starting off of course with that sumptuous “Just Like Honey” replete with that killer “Be My Baby” backbeat and Aimee Nash of The Black Ryder providing those backing female harmonies. Throughout, they proved Psychocandy still boldly personifies the heart-on-your-sleeve temperament of brilliantly dark rock’n’roll in it’s rawest and most rare, and it still manages to give me goose bumps every time.
Article: Dean Keim