Reviews of shows I've been to (and maybe you have too!)

The Jesus and Mary Chain @ 9:30 Club (9/9/12)

Loud. Really LOUD. As in, earplugs just brought things down from deafening to ear-splitting. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from The Jesus and Mary Chain, kings of aural distortion. The loud bug even trickled down to both opening bands. The Vandelles played a set that was occasionally rocking but short on excitement, while the Psychic Paramount specialized in atmosphere, featuring a tripped-out light show accompanying the same song over and over (or at least that’s how it seemed) for 45 minutes. The force of the vibrations seemed to strain the foundations of the 9:30 Club to their limits before the headliners even made their appearance.

By the time The Jesus and Mary Chain came out, hipster excitement was in full swing. Flannel and earplugs were the evenings preferred uniform as the now-five piece band strode on stage, looking more like senior lecturers than the wild rockers they had been during their youth. Well, all except for William Reid, the unlikeliest guitar god in rock history. With a reputation based on noise and distortion (and a current look straight out of the Black Francis diet-and-exercise routine), Reid’s rockstar theatrics come more from the noise he manages to wring out of his axe than any posing or visible excitement. Several of Reid’s rifts seemed to drift into Gang of Four territory, before whipping back into a grunge Wall-of-Sound. Jim Reid was barely audible beneath the waves of guitars (especially when his microphone cut out mid-set), though his predilection for whispered vocals made this less of an anomaly and more of an expectation.

Momentum was a big problem throughout the show. Every time the band revved up and started getting some energy for the crowd, something would slam it to a halt, whether it be equipment malfunctions (rhythm guitarist John Moore had at least two of his guitars go haywire) or a poor choice of set list. Extemporaneous jamming is clearly a no-no, as all songs nicely wrapped up on time, and the set was disappointingly short (though given their reputation, probably as long as could be expected). Several songs from the landmark Psychocandy were performed, including a duet version of “Just Like Honey” with the bass player from The Vandelles. But the crowd’s enthusiasm never waned, as evidenced by a post-show tussle over a copy of the set-list. Reputation goes a long way.

Set List:

  1. Snakedriver
  2. Head On
  3. Far Gone and Out
  4. Between Planets
  5. Blues From A Gun
  6. Teenage Lust
  7. Sidewalking
  8. Cracking Up
  9. All Things Must Pass
  10. Some Candy Talking
  11. Happy When It Rains
  12. Halfway to Crazy
  13. Just Like Honey
  14. Reverence

Encore:

  1. The Hardest Walk
  2. Taste Of Cindy
  3. Never Understand
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