The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, 9/18/12

The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, 9/18/12
Photo by Erik Hess

The Jesus and Mary Chain
with Psychic Paramount and Chatham Rise
First Avenue, Minneapolis
September 18, 2012

"I got a bit of a sore throat," Jim Reid said around the middle of the Jesus and Mary Chain's set in the Mainroom Tuesday night. He was introducing "Some Candy Talking," and offering up what proved to be a rare moment of humor. "This next song requires a real singer, but you'll just have to make due with me."

Unfortunately, the problems with the legendary Scottish band's performance went way further than simply having a hoarse singer. In fact, on the very next song, "Happy When It Rains," the show came completely unraveled when Reid's mic cut out. Remarkably, in spite of being two-thirds of the way through the song, he signaled the rest of the band to stop and start all over again.

The idea, perhaps, was to make sure the crowd got its money's worth. But if so, it fell flat on a night that felt conspicuously like a half-hearted money-grab.

It's always a difficult thing, a show like this. You have a band, whether a major act or a cult one, who go on a reunion tour years after they've broken up. Inevitably, the crowds will come out in droves, either to see the band they grew up listening to, or to get a glimpse of the one they were too young to experience the first time around. Nostalgia trips can often mean big money, whether they ought to or not.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, 9/18/12
Photo by Erik Hess

And, true enough, when they walked out onstage last night, the guys in JAMC showed the passage of time, all dressed neatly in black sport coats, their hair clean cut and gray. Well, mostly clean cut, anyway; the lead guitarist, Reid's older brother, Will, just wore a t-shirt, his afro a frizzy, lopsided mess. They kicked things off with "Snakedriver," which felt stiff and uninspired, helping to set the tone for the early part of the show. Jim Reid sounded a bit as though he were singing karaoke, his voice nasally and off-key, while the blankets of feedback that Will was once known for were basically non-existent. Even the drums were out of time.

Finally, with "Teenage Lust," about a half-dozen songs in, it seemed like things might pick up a bit. Suddenly there was a real sneer in the vocals, and the music, rather than just going through the motions, became fuller and noisier. "Some Candy Talk," too, had at least some semblance of the band's old jangly splendor.

But it didn't last long, as things quickly devolved with the onset of Reid's technical difficulties. The only band member who seemed mostly on the ball was bassist Phil King, who at least laid down a groove that people could dance to (if they were drunk enough, anyway). When they rounded off the main set with "Just Like Honey" and "Reverence," these once-great songs were shadows of their former selves--the latter featuring a particularly shambolic guitar solo from Will, who appeared as though he'd simply forgotten how to play.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, 9/18/12
Photo by Erik Hess
The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, 9/18/12
Photo by Erik Hess

All of which was decidedly sad to see. Granted, in a way, it may have seemed almost predictable; after all, what were the chances the Jesus and Mary Chain of 20 or 25 years ago would show up? But the band we got instead was especially disappointing, a fact that couldn't have been lost on them. And, indeed, the encore proved a complete mess, so rushed and out of time that it seemed they couldn't get out the door fast enough.

Once more, a visibly disgusted Jim Reid brought the others to a crashing halt, trying to save face. But in reality, it was much too late to try starting things over again.

Critics Bias: It's sad whenever a classic band offers up this big of a let down, isn't it?

The Crowd: More than just eclectic. It was pretty all over the place.

Overheard in the Crowd: Get your shit together! This is an embarrassment!

Random Notebook Dump: I missed the set by Chatham Rise, which apparently was pretty good. The Psychic Paramount was kind of droning, kind of trippy, and kind of went on. And on.

Set list:
Head On
Far Gone and Out
Between Planets
Blues from a Gun
Teenage Lust
Cracking Up
All Things Must Pass
Some Candy Talking
Happy When It Rains
Halfway to Crazy
Just Like Honey

The Hardest Walk
Taste of Cindy
Never Understand

City Pages on Facebook | Gimme Noise on Facebook | Twitter | e-mail us

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >