It’s been almost 15 years since they broke up, save a handful of reunion shows in 2007, but the Jesus and Mary Chain have been a constant presence in indie rock since their inception in the early ’80s.
Every few years, like clockwork, another indie band arrives to carry the seminal Scottish act’s signature sound forward: the Raveonettes, A Place to Bury Strangers, Glasvegas, Ringo Deathstarr, and the Vandelles, who opened the show on Tuesday, are but a few of the bands that “sound like Jesus and Mary Chain.” The problem is that a lot of fans never got a chance to hear what that means in person. Even at the height of its career, the volatile act, led by brothers Jim and William Reid, was famous for its infighting, disappointing performances, and alcohol-fueled meltdowns.
Tuesday night, the first of a two-night stand at the Paradise Rock Club, served as a brilliant reintroduction.
The band — including Phil King (of another beloved British guitar act, Lush), Brian Young of the Posies and Fountains of Wayne on drums, and erstwhile Reid collaborator John Moore on guitar — performed a set loaded with greatest hits, showcasing the band’s blend of wall of noise feedback, surging low-end grooves, and ’60s-style pop melodies on songs such as “Far Gone and Out,” which turned on a nasty guitar fill and surged with crackling energy.
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
So, too, did the band’s most well-known track, “Head On” — popularized around these parts by the Pixies — an irresistibly danceable guitar-pop blast that nonetheless found the typically stoic band plodding through perfunctorily. For all the surprising vibrance coming out of the speakers, the demeanor on stage was the exact opposite. Jim Reid’s sole bit of banter came during a lull.
“This is the time I’m supposed to tell you anecdotes about what we’ve been up to,” he began dryly, before William cut him off with the opening line for the loping guitar soloing and stomping snare push of “Between Planets.”
On “Blues From a Gun,” “Cracking Up,” and “Reverence,” they constructed a formidable wall of sound with a visceral bass buzz and a clattering grind of noise. Not perfect, perhaps, but for many in attendance, just the idea of seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain perform a full set — and a quite good one at that — was seeing a piece of history.