Uncut Editor's Diary

The Jesus And Mary Chain – why aren’t all reunion shows this good?

Allan Jones

I’m not sure how keen I am on the current trend for groups to reform, especially when, as is the case with, say, The Police and Genesis, I have actually much preferred them in their absence.

I mean, I was getting on with my life in what you might call an undisturbed fashion, happy enough in most respects, when Sting decides to bring a certain amount of gloom to it by deciding that years after they acrimoniously split, the moment appeared to him, if certainly not me, to be right to bury the hatchet with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland and reform the band for what you would be a fool to think was just for musical reasons as much as the money they will trouser from their world tour.

On Saturday night, I was on my way to the pub from where I live in twickenham and could hear in the distance some infernal din that I then ralised was The Police at Twickenham Stadium, playing from what I could hear some horrible jazz-rock mash-up that if you were writing about it, you’d be inclined to describe with looming dread as “an extended jam”.
It was enough to make you yearn for another album of lute music from Sting, anything but this racket.

By chance, the previous night I had been at Brixton Academy, to see The Jesus And Mary Chain, whose own reunion this year, with notable appearances at the Coachella Festival and the Royal Festival hall, as part of Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown, has not been attended by the clamorous hype surrounding most of the year’s other reunions.

Like you, I was not particularly aware of the nation’s frantic need for the Mary Chain to get back together, but on the evidence of tonight’s largely brilliant show, you can only be glad they are.
You can also be thankful that they haven’t – yet, anyway – used the occasion to exclusively air new material, with the exception of something called “All Things Must Pass” – or to present their old stuff in radically altered arrangements and padded out with fancy instrumental work.

No, what we had here and were ultimately absolutely grateful for was virtually agreatest hits set, the best of a surprisingly resilient back catalogue played with broody venom, Jim Reid a cadaverous presence, brother William a burlier figure on torrential guitar.

The opening trio of songs – “Never Understand”, “Head On” and “Far Gone And Out” – was simply a blast, and there were further terrific outlings for “Sidealking”, “Happy When It rains”, sublime versions “Some Candy Talking” and “Just Like honey”, “You Trip Me Up”, “Darklands” and, as a ferocious closer, “Reverence” was an aptly acrid parting shot.

A big shout out here, meanwhile, to Uncut picture researcher Phil King, who in his other life plays bass with the Mary Chain.

It had been good earlier to see Evan Dando, making a welcome appearance on a London stage. Evan looked somewhat disshevelled and even more baffled, as if he wasn’t quite sure where he was or what he was meant to be doing. He sounded great, though, on a wry version of “Outdoor Type”, while “My Drug Buddy” was prefaced by a snatch of Lou Reed’s “Coney Island Baby” that I was disappointed he didn’t play in a fuller version.

Why can’t all reunion shows be this much fun?


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