By Allyson Bills
Anniversary shows aren’t uncommon in this day of the musical era. However, it’s not everyday that a band tours on the thirtieth anniversary of a particular album. This is the case with Scottish band (from East Kilbride, to be exact) The Jesus and Mary Chain, which consists of brothers Jim Reid (vocals, guitar) and William Reid (guitar, vocals), rounded out by Phil King (bass), Mark Crozer (guitar) and Brian Young (drums), who are currently on a nationwide tour in support of the anniversary of their 1985 debut of Psychocandy. This album was so ahead of its time, and it shows in their current influence of today’s pop culture and modern music, namely A Place to Bury Strangers and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
What was the extent of influence that Psychocandy has on the average American? I found out this answer on a blistering, hot Friday night at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre - their first time back in Arizona since 1990. When I arrived, I was both relieved that I wasn’t the youngest person at the show, and concerned that the heat (and also maybe the high ticket prices?) were deterring the fans from coming to this show.
My concerns were quelled, in terms of attendance, when The Jesus and Mary Chain came onstage at promptly 9:15 p.m. In my experience attending various album anniversary shows, the band usually begins with the album on which they are touring. Not The Jesus and Mary Chain. They began with their “encore” first, which was a smart move considering a majority of their fans are older with obligations outside of attending concerts. I could tell that the band was aware of the above by busting right into their six-song mini set with “April Skies” from Darklands under dark, red lights like they have never missed a beat. The Reid brothers were all business throughout this mini set by powering through some of their hits such as “Head On” from Automatic and “Some Candy Talking,” the most well-received song from this set from Modern Girls movie soundtrack.
Surprisingly, the crowd was quiet, especially for a band that hasn’t been through town in twenty-five years. I was expecting a little more energy from the crowd. However, the Phoenix area did have record-setting high temperatures that day. 117 degree temperatures are draining to the soul. So it was fitting that The Jesus and Mary Chain played “Nine Million Rainy Days” from Darklands, because the state of Arizona needs rain, and maybe this song will help achieve this goal sooner than later. The Jesus and Mary Chain ended their mini set with “Upside Down,” a b-side single that was released in 1984. After this song, the house lights came on, like they were done for the night.
After the ten minute or so break, The Jesus and Mary Chain came back onstage to play the fourteen track album Psychocandy in its entirety - what the fans came to witness. Psychocandy opened with “Just Like Honey," a song that Sofia Coppola used in her movie Lost In Translation. Jim Reid was perhaps his most charismatic self off the album’s second track, “The Living End” a fast track, with him taking that microphone by conviction. I was only hoping that others in the audience were also feeling so quick in their leather boots (or whatever shoes they were wearing) as I was in my black corduroy Toms. The energy from “The Living End” carried over to “Taste the Floor,” a heavily distorted track that highlights both W. Reid’s and Crozer’s guitar work, which got the crowd excited and dancing.
However, the crowd’s energy was short-lived for those people who weren’t in front to the point that it was actually distracting. Throughout the duration of the Psychocandy set, quite a few people were chatting heavily and taking pictures of their groups of friends in front of the band playing. This was happening about ten feet away from the rails! I can’t tell you how many times that I photo-bombed that night by simply being in the audience. I guess I’ll become unintentionally “Internet famous.” As a result, it was hard to enjoy the other hot tracks off Psychocandy, which is what I came here for in the first place.
Despite the inattentive crowd at times, musically, The Jesus and Mary Chain still didn’t miss a beat and were all business throughout the end. They delivered those hot tracks that I was talking about above. “Taste of Candy” is perhaps the catchiest song from Psychocandy with Young’s mid-tempo drum beats. Easily one of my favorite songs off this album, and I was excited to see it live was “Sowing Seeds,” considered to be one of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s slow dance number, with Jim Reid’s crooning “...and I should be on my phone.” How ahead of its time The Jesus and Mary Chain is, because people were on their phones during the show so they can post to their social media accounts. The Jesus and Mary Chain closed with the final track off Psychocandy, “It’s So Hard,” a dark track that got grown men dancing. The crowd finally came back to life, but it was too late because the show was over in a blink of an eye.
I had the opportunity to talk to some of the fans after the show, and it was a relief to me that there were people out there who were stoked to finally see The Jesus and Mary Chain and how much Psychocandy means to them. Even two friends of mine who were in the front, both unintentionally wore striped shirts, just like some of the band members. I just wished I felt more the energy around me from where I was standing. I blame the heat. For me, it was great to see a band that has influenced other bands that I listen to on a regular basis. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time I see The Jesus and Mary Chain. Ideally, not in the summer.