The Jesus and Mary Chain House of Blues March 13, 2012
The Jesus and Mary Chain must be the definition of "acquired taste."
According to my admittedly brief research - which consisted of searching setlist.fm a couple of days before the show - Tuesday was the Mary Chain's first show anywhere in public since a Brazilian festival in November 2008. Even if that's not true, the brothers Reid and their three sidemen were definitely ragged last night, delayed by an hour supposedly due to traffic, plagued by an unforgiving sound mix and having trouble staying on the same page.
During the encore, when singer Jim Reid was about to introduce what he thought was the last song, the rest of the band had already left the stage. Should be a fun gig at SXSW Thursday.
They almost dare their fans to like them. More than once Tuesday, including from the singer of the Rentals-like openers Light FM, I heard about one of the Reids telling a fan to "fuck off." Never mind they insist on playing at a volume that goes past deafening and approaches nerve-damaging.
The Mary Chain was loud as watching two normal bands at the same time. I still can't bring myself to wear earplugs after almost 20 years of reviewing shows, but after Tuesday I doubt even they would have helped.
And yet, like all bad boys, there's something about the Mary Chain that makes us fall in love with them. Their songs throb and grind, deeply sexual, but are suffused with sugar - constant references to candy and honey, to say nothing of the bubblegum melodies themselves.
And the living-in-the-moment appeal of lyrics like "The way I feel tonight, I could die and I wouldn't mind" ("Head On") will never go out of style.
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Some songs, like "Sundown," came as a thick, viscous fuzz. Others came in windmills of Duane Eddy guitar, like "Blues From a Gun." Lead guitarist William Reid's windmills gave off a different color than Pete Townshend's, though.
Like purple, the color of a hickey, and a bruise. "Just Like Honey" and "Happy When It Rains" were primal and sweet, almost narcotic.
It was like being beaten into submission by a bag of gumdrops. You don't see too many bands these days who will give off danger, sweetness and indifference at such high levels, let alone all at once.
Personal Bias: The Mary Chain was the last of the great 120 Minutes bands to appear on my radar, but once they did, I fell about as hard as everyone else.
The Crowd: Has probably been to Numbers more than once, just maybe not in the last decade or so.
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Overheard In the Crowd: Speaking of, Big Kat's owner and local rockabilly promoter Edgar "Big E" Salazar told me he saw Nine Inch Nails open for the Mary Chain at Numbers. How loud must have that show been?
Random Notebook Dump: I skipped my one and only other chance to see the Mary Chain at Stubb's around 2000 or so. A day or two later, they broke up (onstage, I heard) and didn't re-form until 2007. They hadn't been in Texas since then.