Review: The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Palace Theater – St. Paul, MN. May 9, 2017

Published on May 10, 2017

“I think I’m turning to dust
Love is turning to lust
I think I’m turning to dust
Only as I must”

from ‘Mood Rider’ (taken from Damage and Joy (2017))

The swagger of the Jesus and Mary Chain begins and ends with the classic, but never over-the-top delivery of front man Jim Reid.   His lyrics, his onstage poses, and his seemingly intentional choice to obscure his face (and brother William’s)  in a constant haze of smoke (they set off a fire alarm later in the show) and blue lights is just the right touch to portray the FU rock and roll style that has always defined the Jesus and Mary Chain.   Hell, 10 feet into the venue and at the top row of the merchandise stand (see below) is a shirt that says nothing other than “Jesus Fuck”.   Being a devout catholic myself I amazingly almost bought the damn shirt myself it was so brazen and cool.  Once in awhile the Reid brothers can make you believe it’s 1992 all over again.

And only Jim Reid could make me jealous about the lyrics of the 25 year old, sublime and genre-defining song ‘Reverence’.   “I want to die like JFK, I want to die on a sunny day, I want to die like Jesus Christ, I wanna die!!”.    No part of my inner soul could ever imagine saying such words, yet alone screaming them along with Reid at a show, on constant repeat for four minutes.   But that’s the impact of rock and roll and the Reid brothers always made being bad feel even more cool than it already was.   For many of us, ‘Reverance’ is the 90’s version of ‘Another Brick in the Wall pt 2’.

New tracks like ‘Amputation’ and the pounding ‘Mood Rider’ from the new LP Damage and Joy fit the old Jesus and Mary Chain mold perfectly.   With Jim’s snarly delivery and William’s riffs the Mary Chain magic lives onward into their 4th decade of recording.   They can no longer reach the youth like they did with Psychocandy or 1992’s Honey’s Dead, but there is a niche of Generation X’ers that will still play air guitar to them for awhile longer.  2000 of them were at the Palace Theater last night.

The beginning of ‘Reverence’ was actually the evenings most memorable moment.   Originally intended to end the first set, a technical difficulty with the bass player prompted stagehands to come out and assist while the band played through with an extended jam of the song’s groove for a good two minutes before the curtain abruptly dropped.  And then the smoke alarm went off.  Ten minutes later the curtain rises, Reid apologizes for the technical difficulties, and lights into a 7 song encore beginning again with ‘Reverence’.   The extended encore felt a little too much like trying to squeeze too many songs into a short time span but the Mary Chain have earned the right to do pretty much anything they want.   When you can still scream you want to die like Jesus Christ and JFK (and sound believable!) who are we to argue back?

–TWTHS

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