by Ashley Murphy
Photos by Dhal Smith
Darkness fell over the untamed hair and chunky, black boots of a few discernible fans, relentlessly dedicated to the aesthetic of the 80’s post-punk era in which the Jesus and Mary Chain made their way into the scene with their first album, Psychocandy. Stage lights appeared in unison with the band members as the crowd’s screams faded into the screeching synth intro of “Amputation,” the first track from the band’s 2017 release, Damage and Joy.
The band played Emo’s Austin on November 7 during their US leg of the tour for their new album. New York City-based rock band The Dig opened the show with a set of psychedelic pop that would’ve fit in just as well at an iconic 90’s JAMC show.
Though the Jesus and Mary Chain’s first album release since 1998 harbors far less of the angst and brash feedback that defined Psychocandy, their live performance solidified Damage and Joy’s comfortable place among their characteristically noise-pop discography as the band seamlessly followed their newest tracks with 80’s throwbacks.
However, much of Psychocandy’s goth-rock noise yielded to the band’s mellower tracks throughout the set, from 1989’s surf-rock reminiscent “Between Planets” to 2017’s 90’s throwback pop tune “Always Sad.”
Despite their extended break from music, the Jesus and Mary Chain’s consistent sound brings an element of nostalgia to even their most recent songs. That nostalgic feeling was paralleled in their live show by a simplistic focus on the music – sans fanciful production, sans eye-catching stage antics.
The concert was just music – the band played, the crowd listened. This simplicity mixed with smooth guitars evoked a cinematic feeling and a raw energy throughout the show.
However, the band didn’t shy away from their heavier songs. Their alleged last song of the night, which they left to the audiences’ discretion, elevated the show to a higher level of energy via one of the band’s heavier oldies “Reverence,” as lead singer Jim Reid lamented over piercing guitars “I wanna die just like Jesus Christ.”
As the song faded out, Reid lifted his hands in gratitude to a cheering crowd and the band made their exit. With a newfound gravity and an unspoken bond holding each fan in his or her place, a full crowd stood firmly before an empty stage, ready to request their promised encore.
The Jesus and Mary Chain returned to the stage with a simple “thank you,” and for the first time of the night, phones took up hands, red recording buttons pulsing as the band played the first notes of their much-anticipated classic, “Just Like Honey.”
The band didn’t end the show with their famous ’80’s track, but rather let it kick-start a six-song encore. After almost a half-hour of an extended set, JAMC announced their last song and even still, a loud, collective “boo” poured from the crowd before the band launched into “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll” with all of the noise, angst and feedback that started the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Be sure to check out Dhal Smith’s full photo set of the show here.
Black and Blues
Far Gone and Out
Cherry Came Too
All Things Pass
Some Candy Talking
Halfway to Crazy
Just Like Honey
War on Peace
I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll