The Jesus And Mary Chain, the influential, irreverent Scottish band that helped define alternative rock throughout the 80’s and 90’s; came to Brooklyn’s newest live venue Brooklyn Steel to play a show in support of Damage and Joy, their first new album in an extremely long and lonely 19 years. It’s impressive enough for a band or artist to come back together after so long, but it is a downright miracle to also produce a stunning new album as well that satisfies both the enduring hardcore fans as well as attracts new ones, but in this case, Jesus And Mary Chain have done just that and then some. This is an album that, just like their previous treasure trove of discs, has absolutely no fucks to give in pretense, but behind the lush curtain of darkly ironic artsiness, has one of the most amazing atmospheres and slowly evolving grooves in all of rock history. Their scuzzy, shoegaze punches feel like getting a mouthful of smoke disdainfully blown into your face, but then evaporates into a breathtaking vision that bring on tears of joy. Sure, there has been a surprising number of formerly awesome 80’s & 90’s bands (like Slowdive, Blur, and Tribe Called Quest, to name a few) that have been turning out stunning new albums after many years apart, and those works turning out to perhaps being their strongest works to date, but this one may be even more unexpected than all the others. After over two decades of nasty feuding and bickering that would put the Gallagher siblings to shame, the brothers Jim and William Reid have finally put aside their bad blood and produced an unexpected marvel of an album, and are out on the road to gift it in person to their most enduringly patient of diehard fans.
Opening the show was another brotherly duo team Paul and Ryan Cobb, who together act as the songwriters and vocalists of the Philly rock group known aptly as The Cobbs. Their music spins through a lot of traditional rock threads, from Led Zeppelin to The Stone Roses, but with a decidedly more Americanized appeal, with lots of alt-country and blues thrown in for good measure.
Amid a bellowing cloud of dry-ice smoke and permeating mood lightings, the Reid brothers and their backing members came out to play a set that should have truly satisfied all of their devoted fans that packed the spacious two-floor venue. Sure, they started off with a new one, but then they broke straight into a bunch of classics like “April Skies,” “Head On,” “Far Gone and Out” and many more. They did pepper in new tracks, but as I said, their latest has such a vintage JMAC feel, that it was remarkably seamless when they did drop a newbie in there. The sound was remarkable, as I’ve found Brooklyn Steel has really great natural acoustics anyways. However, despite Jim’s joke about how no one can understand him when he talks with his thick accent, his expansive harmonics along with William’s angelic guitar chiming along with the whole crew of largely newer backing musicians put out an outstandingly tight and alluringly bewitching show that seemed like prayers finally answered.
The only hiccup of the show for me was when singer and model Sky Ferreira came out to do a bit of that standard Shangri-Las-style JAMC backing female harmony on songs like “The Two of Us” and of course “Just like Honey,” and she rather badly stammered over many of her verses. She did a great job on the album track she sang on, but I would have rather heard from the other guest singers from the new album like William’s present girlfriend Bernadette Denning or Belle and Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell harmonize with them on stage instead. I know they had built a reputation for bringing in fresh new female vocal talent in the past, with the likes of Hope Sandoval, Scarlett Johansson, Karen Parker, Laurence Verfaillie, and their other sibling Sister Vanilla all chiming in on their imposing catalogue wonderfully, but Sky’s was not as strong of a performance as I had hoped. Nonetheless, the show was extraordinary with many of my other favs like “Blues From a Gun,” “Taste Of Cindy” and “Reverence” all reaching straight into my soul and lifting me up just when I needed it most. I really hope to hear more from these two dear bros, as clearly these two have an ethereal magic about them that endures to this day.
Article: Dean Keim