In 1985, The Jesus and Mary Chain embarked on a tour for their successful debut album, Psychocandy. At the time, the band was a lightning rod of controversy in the UK press, primarily because of their antagonistic stage antics. Fueled by amphetamines, the band would often play with their backs to the audience before departing after a 20-minute set. This would throw the crowd into a riotous frenzy, culminating in smashed equipment and bottles being thrown onto the stage. In 2015, the Jesus and Mary Chain are luckily in a better place. Psychocandy is heralded as an iconic album that has served to influence countless bands and musicians and helped propel to the Jesus and Mary Chain to further success throughout the late 80’s and 1990’s. With the news that the band has begun recording their next album, the first since reuniting in 2007, it feels right to revisit the album where it all began, with the band embarking on a 30th Anniversary Psychocandy Tour.
I saw the band back in Texas earlier this year at Levitation, and while I was happy to see them, the performance seemed off. It wasn’t the best show sound-wise, and the band seemed to be going through the motions. I wanted to give them another chance at an indoor show, without the festival imposed time constraints and outdoor hindrances. Fast forward five months, the stage was set for the Reid brothers at the Olympia Theater in their last stop of the 30th Anniversary Psychocandy Tour. DJ Mikey Ramirez spun all sorts of new wave/proto punk tunes, finishing off with Television’s “Marquee Moon” at a slightly faster speed as the smoke machine on stage emptied out over the crowd to create a hazy atmosphere prior to the band taking the stage. After the lights darkened, brothers Jim and William Reid walked onto the stage, accompanied by Mark Crozer, Brian Young, and Phillip King, the latter perhaps most known not as the ‘Mary Chain’s touring bassist, but as a member of the recently reunited shoegazers Lush. Once the band was settled with their instruments, Jim Reid approached the microphone and informed us that the band would be doing an opening set of songs before playing Psychocandy. The set begun with the anthemic “April Skies”, the third track off their sophomore effort Darklands, and featured tracks “Head On”, “Blues From a Gun”, and another Darklands track, “Nine Million Rainy Days”.
After sandwiching the 1992 track “Reverence” between a pair of Psychocandy era non-album tracks “Some Candy Talking” and “Upside Down”, the band departed once again, with Jim Reid promising to return shortly. No more than five minutes passed before the band walked back out again, prompting a mass migration from the alcohol line back to the seats. Once the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” inspired drum beat kicked into gear, everyone got their phones out and began filming “Just Like Honey”, perhaps the most well known song in the Jesus and Mary Chain repertoire. The rest of the album followed, and to their credit, the band was much tighter than when I last saw them. Maybe it was the venue, the Olympia Theater, which seems well equipped in the audio department. Perhaps the crowd had something to do with it, as they were on their feet all night, jumping up and down. Someone even tried to climb on stage, but his half-assed attempt resulted in him being escorted out of the venue entirely. Whatever the reason, it can be said that the Jesus and Mary Chain ended the North American leg of their tour on a high note, and finished the show with a hypnotic, mind melting, seven minute long rendition of the album finale, “It’s So Hard.” As the band walked off, William Reid laid his guitar down and let the feedback emit from his amp for another 30 seconds, before calmly walking back to the stage to shut off his amp.
It was the kind of ending we’d expect from the band. No bullshit encore, or unnecessary theatrics, just straightforward in-your-face honesty. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Just like the original Psychocandy tour, the 2015 iteration brings out the excitement in people. Luckily for the band, riot police are no longer required.
- I barely understood Jim Reid when he spoke between songs. I know he’s speaking English, but underneath that thick Scottish accent, it’s not comprehensible.
- No fancy backdrop, just the Psychocandy album cover. Simplicity.
- The staff at the Olympia were cordial and friendly.
- Thank you, Desiree, for letting me use your camera on short notice.