Music review: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

There were a few “Mary Chain Moments” at this Kelvingrove Bandstand gig, but such is the nature of a live show from East Kilbride’s greatest post-punk exports, writes Malcolm Jack

The Jesus and Mary Chain will be part of the Summer Nights concert series in Kelvingrove Park.
The Jesus and Mary Chain will be part of the Summer Nights concert series in Kelvingrove Park.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****

“If you’re being unkind, you could call that a f***-up,” joked Jim Reid dryly beneath a beautifully clear Glasgow night sky, after a ropey sounding attempt at the song Moe Tucker collapsed to a clattering halt. “We prefer to think of it as a Mary Chain moment.”

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Another Mary Chain moment swiftly followed as the song collapsed yet again. A few more choice expletives later, Reid elected to move along swiftly to the next number.

Such is the, shall we say touch-and-go, nature of experiencing East Kilbride’s greatest (honestly) post-punk exports live, now as ever.

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Formed by brothers Jim (vocals) and William Reid (guitar) in 1983, and once featuring Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie on drums, the Jesus and Mary Chain in their prime blasted rock’n’roll back to raw, ragged, romantic and occasionally literally riotous basics in a hail of feedback and distortion, before falling out and falling apart in a fug of druggy excess.

Back in business since 2007, they’ve been touring steadily over the last year or so, most recently performing their classic album Darklands in full. A few “Mary Chain moments” notwithstanding – all part of the band’s chaotic charm – they looked and sounded road-hardened and on fine form at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

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A career-spanning set hit the heights with the fuzzy magnificence of April Skies and the menacingly motoring Snakedriver, before landing a pair of emotional sucker punches with the dolorously anthemic Darklands and the epochal Ronettes-on-downers narco-dreaminess of Just Like Honey.

“Despite the f***-ups, I hope you had a good time,” said Jim Reid by way of droll farewell, and even as I Hate Rock’n’Roll fell to bits in a mess of what somehow sounded like two different songs being played at once, indeed we did have a good time.