The Jesus and Mary Chain. Back on British soil to answer the question everyone has been asking since Coachella: uh, is Scarlett Johansson going to be here?
No. She wasn’t. But if it was a strange mix of nostalgia and disdain you’re after, then we might be able to accommodate you. Because while there were no back-turning histrionics, no sets consisting solely of a twenty minute surge of confrontational noise, the Brothers Reid haven’t yet graduated from the “You’ve such a lovely, wonderful audience” school of audience appreciation.
Still, it’s probably just habit. More importantly, if they had come on and blown Paltrow-esque platitudes up the arses of three thousand people who had been waiting x years (and one Evan Dando set) for their return, it would have been frighteningly wrong. Much better that after a splendid Happy When It Rains Jim labels them “Miserable fucking bastards”, with just the merest hint that he might be kidding.
It’s sturdier ground for JAMC. Who of course now are safely in the realms of being one of those bands. A bands whose initial commercial impact was equivalent to a wet sponge hitting a damp squib, but who’s influence over their art echoes louder and louder with each passing year.
Now, speak of feedback, speak of distortion, and you speak of The Chain. Hell, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have made a career out of being desperate to be them. After tonight, you can see why. The Chain were, and more excitingly still are, the kind of band who make you want to form a band.
Although tonight, things started shaky. Never Understand opened proceedings and with a fluffed vocal cue, and a dawning realisation that you could hear yourself talk, never mind think, over the top of William Reid’s guitar, caused an auditorium of bound paunches tightly restrained under black tees, unworn for many years, to retreat as thousands held their breath.
But it was an exception rather than a rule, and a blitzkrieging rampage through Head On and Sidewalking with the noise creeping up towards the tinnitus inducing levels required ensured that everyone could relax.
And let the good times role. Just Like Honey performed in front of an array of fairy lights, with the non-Johnasson introduced only as Fi, is immense. A glorious mess-up of two bipolar genres: a sunshining pop-song dressed in dark druggy squalls. Consider it Brian Wilson bumming fags off Edie Sedgewick in a New York basement while Lou Reed waits for his man.By the time it all ended with Reverence the volume levels were at the point where your body resonated as if someone had attached a jackhammer to your nipples and was now attempting to sculpt marble with it.
Oh, it was good. How good? Well, put it this way: Scarlett who?