Concert review: The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN – September 18, 2012

The Jesus and Mary Chain at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN – September 18, 2012

“I wanna die just like Jesus Christ.  I wanna die just like JFK”

Published September 19, 2012 by Jeff Becker


You would think after 20 years of exploitive hip-hop, Jersey Shore, gangster rap, and everything X-rated in between, the “I wanna die like Jesus Christ.  I wanna die like JFK” lyric wouldn’t provoke us.  In fact, you would think that we’d simply roll our eyes at the old-school type of macho gesture.  But we can’t.   There’s still something cool about hearing Jim Reid’s delivery of those awesome lines.   They’re compelling.   They’re sung in Reid’s crystal clear tone – as if he wants to ensure we absorb every word with no distraction.   Reid still makes those words sound real and shocking, even in a setting that finds the Mary Chain well over a decade beyond their prime years of inspiration and conviction.  What’s most remarkable is that those lyrics remain the most disturbingly cool moment of the night – even when we knew they were coming during the opening chords of ‘Reverance’.

From a showmanship perspective their stage show isn’t a disaster, but at times it adoringly tries to become one – much like the up and down history of the Reid brothers.   But as crazy as that sounds it fits into the night perfect.   We wouldn’t want them to be any other way than a little fucked up – just like we wouldn’t want the Replacements to hit the stage with a blood-alcohol level below 0.25.   Songs get stopped and re-started.  Microphone problems.  Guitar problems.  Garbled, brief chit-chat from a lead man (Jim Reid) who has no desire whatsoever to be a lead man.  While watching him talk with the audience, it’s clearly painful.  Probably for him to.  You sense he’d rather be waterboarding than make small talk with the aging hipster driven crowd.   But it all works.   We knew the Reid brothers didn’t always get along well during their studio creations in the 90’s so why would we give a fuck if they came off tonight as a not-so-perfectly oiled machine?  It’s their shortcomings that makes them still real.  It’s that idiosyncratic trait of measurable insanity that was just enough to make us pay closer attention and love their albums even more.   We go see the Jesus and Mary Chain to rock – not to see a hug fest.  They can annoy the heck out of each other all they want if it makes the music sound better.

What the Reid brothers lack in charisma and stage presence they don’t lack in a catalog to pick tracks from.   They could play any of their albums from start to finish and still set the crowd ablaze.   Holding to a tight 80 minute show was the perfect length.   We were able to love them just long enough before they stopped loving to be there.   As the San Francisco weekly review by Sam Lefebvre discussed the Reid brothers are, “Clearly songwriters before showmen.”  Absolutely right.   But thankfully for 80 minutes on a perfect Minneapolis night at the best club in the city they hung around long enough for us to remember how great they were, despite all those adorable hints at self-destruction.   It reminded us of everything we loved about the Reid brothers.

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