Gig Review: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Middlesbrough Empire

Gig review: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Middlesbrough Empire 24/9/2017

Back in the UK top 20 with their first album in two decades, The Jesus and Mary Chain visited Middlesbrough’s Empire embarking on reinvigorating a career that has been littered with self-destruction incidents. On a murky stage, drenched in fuzz and dim neon backlight, the Reid brothers cut lonely silhouettes throughout proceedings as fans were treated to a variety of earlier hits with a sprinkling of new album cuttings.

Proceedings begun with The Van’ts, who successful enticed the crowd into their contemporary sound that draws resemblance from bands such as Pixies, B52’s and Smashing Pumpkins. Popular single ‘Blood Orange’ encapsulates the bands characteristics effortlessly as a deep driving guitar wails and echoes from the speakers, bridged beautifully by the twin sisters duel vocals, all neatly harnessed between a tight percussion package.

As the band stroll onto the stage, virtually the only band member visible on the dry ice strewn stage is Jim Reid who stands motionless, intoning the perfect melodies with lyrics consisting of self loathing and love over their impenetrable wall of fuzz. Lost in the towering dry ice, the Mary Chain are still honing that artful imbalance between visceral beauty and violence that has always been the core to their enticing spectral image.

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The set list slivers from classic to modern as new album, “Damage and Joy gets an outing as they open with Amputation, a track that feels already that it’s been around for a few years. Their glacial and majestic set tonight proves this, projecting something beautiful and other worldly, time has only enhanced the plethora of songs the band possess. New songs showed a different direction to the band, in particular the mellow fuzz-rock of ‘Mood Rider; and the bittersweet ‘Always Sad’. In the main, though, The Jesus and Mary Chain combined nihilistic lyrics and noisy indie-rock effortlessly well.

They still make everything feel so effortless, those glorious chord changes, intertwined with dark, introverted emotions that is contrasted with the sheer beauty and simpleness of three chord rock n roll. Jim possess a gorgeous voice as he coils the microphone lead round his hand like taming a wild serpent. While brother William is lost in the background and can only be seen as his towering Orange rig contrasts against his silver curls, like some sort of sonic wizard conjuring up layers of cut-throat guitar. For a band that deal in the deceptively simple, there is so much going on. The Mary Chain still sound guitar-urgent and are still looking to the six string guitar to worlds unheard of.

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Every single aspect of the band is so enticing and the venue’s, dark, ‘grungey’ nature only improves the aura and only adds to the atmosphere. Somehow, down to the songwriting prowess and the incredible musicianship the band members possess,  incredibly, the Jesus And Mary Chain still sound like the future of rock n’ roll.


Words: Matthew Thomas