The Jesus and Mary Chain Are Ageless At The O2

by Taylor William-Hill

Upon entering the 02 Academy in Bristol to see The Jesus and Mary Chain, the bouncer cut me a very uneasy glare and instructed me not to take any photos of the show because the band ‘have told the audience not to’. OK, well, I’ve never been one to watch gigs through the lens of my camera, and I wasn’t intending on doing so for this one. Was something illicit going to take place on stage? Were the band not scrubbed up in their Sunday best (even though it was a Wednesday) and didn’t want pictures of them distributed over the internet? Or maybe – just maybe – they’ve become extremely cranky with old age and abhor any item of technology present during their shows. If you’re looking for the answer to this, I’m afraid I can’t tell you; what I can say, however, is how great this gig was!

Opening the night’s proceedings were The Shimmer Band, one of the strongest support acts I have seen. They were exhilarating; if Jim handpicked them, William and co., then I would strongly advise looking out for them throughout the rest of the year. Thankfully, when the main act did come on stage, they were gracefully punctual: on stage by 9:15, encore at 10:15, back on at 10:20 and off by 10:30. I know this because I spent a lot of time looking at my watch making sure I wouldn’t miss the last train home. When the brothers eventually made way onto the band, I remember somebody turning to me and going ‘gosh, aren’t they old?’ – they certainly looked it. Jim Reid aka ‘The King of Cool’ no longer (William still had his fancy Robert Smith haircut, though).

No introductions required the band open with the ‘fan-picked’ single from their new album Damage and Joy. Although I was slightly critical of Amputation, it sounds so very impressive live! It was a great start. The audience were somewhat familiar with the song, too, which was encouraging to me, knowing the atmosphere will be consistent even when the band play their new songs. Then we jumped back 30 years when the band started to play April Skies, and I lost my mind. I felt shock and excitement from hearing a song from one of the band’s first two albums.

I was amazed by the sheer quality of the sound. Jim’s vocals sounded amazing – much better than studio quality, even with William’s signature Gibson ES-330 screeching feedback to us through their Orange speakers aptly stickered with ‘Jesus’. I had a blast up to the encore where it only got better there. Upon returning to the stage, the band started to play songs from their first, and my favourite, album Psychocandy. I must admit, I got a little over excited when I heard the opening drum beat for Just Like Honey. After playing four songs from the album, the band finished up with one from the new record: War on Peace.

And now The Jesus and Marychain are ticked off my ‘bands to see before death occurs’ list – and what a fantastic show it was.

Photo credit: Vanyaland.