Jesus and Mary Chain & Sugarmen / O2 Academy, Liveprool

Jesus and Mary Chain & Sugarmen / O2 Academy, Liveprool

On Thursday 21st September I caught Jesus and Mary Chain at the O2 Academy Liverpool, supported by local band The Sugarmen.

The gig had been subject to an unfortunate venue change from The Olympia , but the O2 does the job passably with a decent sound, and more importantly cheap beer!

First up were the Sugarmen, who’s set mixing driving punk with more indie tracks went down well to a smallish crowd consisting largely of hometown faithful, along with the adventurous few JAMC fans who ventured in before the headline act. The dual guitars and vocals seemed to blend into each other in the mix, with bassist Shields frantic and melodic basslines standing out and driving the sound. Much of the set was drawn from the upcoming album Local Freaks, to be released on the 6th of October. A standout track was Golden One from Local Freaks, with it’s excellent slowed down segment mixing pure psychedelic guitar work with a chunky and driving bass riff. Sugarmen’s higher tempo, catchy punk offerings are a strange contrast perhaps with the haunted shoegaze fuzz of  Jesus and Mary Chain, although the shared influences are clearly there, and they are very well received by the assembled crowd.

There was a diverse crowd in attendance, and the venue filled out after the relatively small showing for the (unphased) Sugarmen. Jesus and Mary Chain brought in plenty of younger fans, dotted amongst the middle aged nostalgia seekers who made up the core demographic of their crowd. Their set was a mixture of classics from their 80’s and 90’s era albums and tracks from the new album Damage and Joy. The band opened with new track Amputation which, by the Reid brothers standards is strangely upbeat and clean sounding. The entire band other than vocalist Jim Reid are obscured by a thick wall of dry ice, and the dim lighting obscured things further. The set moves quickly into a sound more easily identifiable with JAMC, with classic offerings like Just Like Honey and Darklands from the early albums making appearances, to the joy of the lifelong fans in the audience.  One of the standout tracks of the set was the 60’s style Jangle Pop offering Always Sad off the new album, with haunting guest vocals provided by Bernadette Denning.

Ultimately however, while the set was well received by the fans of the band, Jesus and Mary Chain lacked the presence you would expect from a band with their reputation. Jim Reid shuffled on his microphone stand, while the rest of the band remained behind plumes of smoke; Which would be fine, if it was purely an aesthetic decision, but it seemed in this case to be hiding a band who were, to an extent, going through the motions to please fans in rose tinted glasses.

Of course, this is always to be expected when a band does a reunion 20 years after their initial run, and my cynicism won’t mean much to all those present who clearly loved the set. So, overall, a decent show from Jesus and Mary chain, and a band I’m glad to tick off the list, but they didn’t quite manage to win me over as a new convert.

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