Concert Reviews

Jesus and Mary Chain Brought Psychocandy to Life in All Its Glory Last Night in Dallas

The Jesus and Mary Chain The Bomb Factory, Dallas Thursday, May 7, 2015

Over the the years the brothers William and Jim Reid have led the Jesus and Mary Chain through many highs and numerous lows. They have always been a hit or miss prospect when it comes to their live shows. There was always a threat in the feedback-drenched glory of their groundbreaking debut Psychocandy that they never quite delivered on.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of that legendary album, the Reid brothers are touring a setlist including the entire Psychocandy album and a handful of fan favorite tunes. As they hit the massive room at The Bomb Factory on Thursday, it promised to be either the ultimate Jesus and Mary Chain experience for longtime fans or a disaster.

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Going into this show I had a very real fear that I was walking into what could be a watered down version of their best material. The Reid Brothers are the only original members from Psychocandy. On this tour they are backed up by regular collaborator Phil King (ex-Lush) on guitar, Brian Young on drums and Mark Crozer on bass. Those fears were quickly alleviated by the opening volley of non-Psychocandy fan faves "April Skies" and "Head On," which immediately pulled the crowd into the show.

Things started to pick up even more for "Some Candy Talking." The smoke was building on stage and starting to spill off into the crowd, accented by building strobes lights and theatrical lighting that cast the band more as ghostly shadows than human rock band. They follow up with "Psychocandy" (a song that is ironically not on the album Psychocandy) and "Up Too High," both of which emphasize the Reid brothers' brand of Phil Spector worship.

After a nice build up of classic tunes, they got down to business with a mind-blowing version of "Reverance," sending streaks of of feedback and noise across The Bomb Factory with Jim Reid declaring, "I wanna die just like jesus Christ/I wanna die on a bed of spikes/I wanna die Just like JFK/I wanna die in the U.S.A". It was totally menacing and every bit as confrontational as a hardcore fan would want out of the Jesus and Mary Chain show. Closing out their first seven-song set with a solid version of "Upside Down," it seemed like an extended encore at the beginning of the show as they left the stage for a short break. It proved a perfect setup for what came next.

With a perfect visual backdrop of what looked liked World War II-era film footage melting and morphing into the album cover of Psychocandy, the boom and bap of the drums started up as they walked back onto the stage one at a time. Gradually it all built into album opener "Just Like Honey," a unique soundscape that is one part dreamy like a '50s pop song and one part sonic textures that coat the guitar in sonic bliss.

Playing full album sets can be a tricky prospect, but in the case of this show the perfect ebb and flow of Psychocandy as a complete album was on full display. Jim Reid's vocals were buried in a haze of chaos that still managed to convey the idea of the vocal without being completely legible to the naked ear. This would normally be a huge negative for a band, but in this case it was an authentic representation of the lawlessness of Psychocandy.

The band played the entire album in an almost rock opera fashion: one giant composition with each song crossfaded into the next by a connective tissue of distortion and feedback. The few actual breaks between songs were kept brief as they came at the audience with a controlled fury rarely seen by the band in many years.

At the peak of the Psychocandy set they raised the sonic bar even higher during a stunning version of "Never Understand," accompanied by flashes of video taking scenes from Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult film The Holy Mountain. Finishing out the Psychocandy set with album closer "It's So Hard," the Jesus and Mary Chain bid their farewell to Dallas having just reinforced why they are a ground-zero influence for so many dream pop, shoegaze and noise rock bands that have followed in their footsteps over the past few decades.

Australian natives the Black Ryder have the dubious honor of opening for Jesus and Mary Chain on this landmark tour. Appropriately dressed in all black, the Black Ryder warmed up the crowd with their brand of noise pop that takes a page right out of the distinguished headliner's playbook: They eased into their set with a slow, hypnotic burn, blissful slide guitar tones and a pleasant male and female vocal dynamic. Their set never really picked up steam and they seemed to only have two songs that they played through the set, a slow song and a mid-tempo song with a bit more overdrive. They seemed to be a pretty good band that suffered from a lack of variety in their set, but managed to be an adequate calm before the forthcoming storm of the Jesus and Mary Chain.


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