Richard Brabin finds Jim reid has lost none of his edge at a very loud night of dreamy rock courtesy of The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain

O2 Academy Oxford

April 2 2017

When Psychocandy, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s acclaimed, debut album burst on to the scene in 1985, it was such a bold and unique piece of work that, to this day, it still seems achingly ahead of its time.

In an era entrenched in Thatcherism, riots, strikes and civil unrest, Psychocandy stood like a beacon of industrious originality and unquestionable distinction. Skip forward 32 years, five more studio albums, countless spats and tales of drunken debauchery, and we have a new Mary Chain offering Damage and Joy. It’s not by any means a masterpiece, but a nice reminder of a style that only The Mary Chain can truly call their own.

Everything about the Mary Chain sound is big, and as a result, acoustically it translates remarkably well to large halls, their trademark distorted reverb filling the O2 Academy like an unburdened damn. This is matched only by the huge echoing thud of every drum beat which pulses through their work, the only constant in a sea of clandestine whirs and abrasive shrieks.

Jim Reid’s vocal lines contain such lazy, daydream capabilities that they exist firmly inside their music as opposed to on top of it, and his subject matter is as snarling and subversive today as it ever has been.

The new music doesn’t perhaps hit the highs of some of The Mary Chain’s older work, but then they don’t have the familiarity of three decades to seep into the consciousness; a luxury which often leads to contemporary work being unfairly dismissed as somehow less symbolic or exacting. What is apparent is that their style has aged wonderfully and still sounds mystifyingly relevant and coherent.

There is always something worrying about iconic bands reforming and releasing new material. Their motive is questioned and their work harshly criticised; fans assuming that 30 years on, the band will be as prolific and fertile as their former selves. But we ought to strip off the cynicism, throw away the preconceptions and just enjoy revisiting a band which changed the landscape of British music.

For many like myself, just a year-old when Psychocandy was released,It’s a wonderful thing to see a band from an era that we never got to personally experience. And yes, in the pub after, I’ll let you tell me how much better it all was back then.