The Jesus And Mary Chain at Rock City, Nottingham, September 1987

Once in a while, a band produce a performance that glows with pop’s heady desire, thrills to the core and makes you reconsider all your old prejudices. While the lucky bastards were off to see that, I had to go and watch The Jesus and Mary Chain instead.

First thing to know is that “Jesus And” has been dispatched from the grubby consciousness of the even grubbier audience (I’m sure I smiled at least once when I was 18). These days it’s Mary Chain, as in Mary Peters or Mary Hopkins, the band pursuing a similar sense of tawdry careerism in the face of the mass misinterpretation. The Jesus And Mary Chain were never meant to trudge around the middle ground. They had to be volatile and tiny or seductively massive, NEVER EVER gratuitously mediocre. Tonight it’s impossible to tell the songs apart, for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe they had to sign a contract ensuring that they’d play a set that lasted well over three-quarters of an hour, maybe they just like dry wanks. Whatever the case, they trudged well past their sell-by date long before the set spluttered to a close.

I’m sick of defending them, of excusing their slow motion, piano downbangs. I’m sick of pretending that what I’ve always wanted most in the world is 1987 surf rock with designer feedback. I’m sick of pretending they’re important. The Jesus And Mary Chain might as well be The Bunnymen for all I, or sadly they, care.

“In A Hole” is mishapen, potted neatly into a scrunchy sandcastle, a mile away from the pneumatic assault of old. Likewise “You Trip Me Up” and “Never Understand”, both doing EXACTLY what you expect, concealing invention and extremity behind leather petticoats.

The new songs come wrapped up in names like “9 Million Rainy Days” and “Taste Of Cindy”, or perhaps that’s the old songs staggering in for a rebound. Truly, tonight, there was little sense of anything other than dull meandering.

Saddest of all, I didn’t feel cheated, betrayed or particularly sad. Just interested in the way that the Emporer’s clothes slip quietly away once you put your glasses on. Jesus And Mary Chain are dead. Dance on their graves but don’t give the digger 10 pence for the bus home.

(Paul Mathur – Melody Maker, 19/09/87)

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