Monday, 6 August 2012

The Jesus And Mary Chain- Live at the Phoenix

When The Jesus and Mary Chain announced a new tour back in April after playing fairly successful shows at SXSW, I knew I could not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity and rushed to buy a ticket before it sold out. I had never seen these guys play before, even though they are one of my all time favourite bands. I also knew the The Phoenix is a relatively small venue and sure enough it did not take long to sell out.

The concert started with Toronto based dance band Nightbox, who were an odd choice to open for the more sullen shoegaze main attraction. Nightbox mixes synth pop with party disco and reminded me a lot of Friendly Fires. The crowd seemed appreciative of their music but there was a also a lot of people ignoring the band or mocking them. One tweet from a well known Toronto indie rocker (who shall remain nameless) stated "Worst opener ever". You can't please everyone.

In the time space between the opening band and the main attraction, the concert theatre started to fill up. This usually brings out the idiots (you can read more about this on favourite blog indie kid vs dance kid) who need to make a final beer run or want to get a better position in close the stage. I was pushed aside numerous times with not even an "excuse me" as douchebags who arrived late selfishly shoved their way up closer to the stage. You think that an older crowd would be more behaved, but I was proved wrong.

The Jesus and Mary Chain arrived on stage at 10:45 PM, and the notorious bickering Reid brothers looked pretty good for guys who are noted for their past drug and alcohol abuse. Guitarist William Reid still has hair that looks like he stuck his finger in a light socket.

The band quickly proved they are still king when it comes to shoegaze right from the get go with the Sound of Speed classic Snakedriver. The aural assault of punk , post punk and Spector wall of sound 60's pop ladened with William Reid's terrorizing guitar licks and deafening feedback sounded fantastic throughout their 14 song opening set. The music was so loud that singer Jim Reid had to cover his ears for most of the set (the poor guy is probably legally deaf by now) to try and hear himself sing.

The first surprise of the night came whenFrench Canadian actress and Mad Men star Jessica Pare-aka Megan Draper- came on stage to help out with the backing of Just Like Honey (It just so happens that Jessica's boyfriend John Kastner is former lead singer of the punk band The Asexuals and now JAMC's guitar technician). She did a fairly admirable job of singing the few lines near the end of the song-unlike Scarlett Johansson who butchered it at Coachella a few years ago. However, there was a second surprise, as Jessica did not leave the stage, and singer Jim Reid announced "they were going to play a song they have not played in a while." Jessica stayed to sing the Hope Sandoval part of the duet with Jim Reid for the song Sometime Always. They screwed up a few bars in and had to start the song again, but after all was said and done the rendition was nearly perfect. Glad Jessica didn't break into the song Zou Bisou from that infamous Mad Men episode.

The only other mis-step on the night was when the band started playing All Things Must Pass. About a quarter of the way through the song, guitarist William Reid botched a cord and Jim decided to stop the song. The short tempered Jim Reid then berated his brother on stage, and if I understood his Scottish burr correctly, he basically told him he was a fuck up. They were able the finish the song and the rest of the concert without any major incidents. The only other criticism I had of the show was that the light show seemed to be lacking and the dry ice seemed to dissipate too fast in the hot summer night.

The set ended with a very Stooges-like punk rock version of Reverence. That was the highlight of my night.
Download: The Jesus And Mary Chain- Reverence

The band played two encores, the first made up of three songs (see set list below) and the second one song. The second encore was kind of funny, as many of the people in the crowd headed for the exits, the band re-appeared and announced that they had forgot to play one song. They then launched into a raucous version of their classic song Sidewalking, much to the chagrin to the people who had already made their way out of the concert hall. Lesson learned-it's never over until it's over.

Set list:
Head On
Far Gone and Out
Between Planets
Blues From a Gun
Teenage Lust
Cracking Up
All Things Must Pass
Some Candy Talking
Happy When It Rains
Halfway To Crazy
Just Like Honey (featuring Jessica Pare)
Sometimes Always (featuring Jessica Pare)
The Hardest Walk
Taste of Cindy
Never Understand
2nd Encore

Watch: The Jesus And Mary Chain- Sometimes Always (featuring Jessica Pare) live at The Phoenix

Watch: The Jesus and Mary Chain- Sidewalking (Live)


  1. Thanks for the live you-were-actually-there review and video clips. Also thanks for filling in the info of how Jessica Pare has become involved.

    Last year I did an interview with Jim Reid and you can read it here:

    1. Hi Dave
      Thanks for the kind words about my post. Also what a great interview you did with JAMC...didn't think they would do an interview with a blogger. Good on Jim Reid.