The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy Newcastle O2 Academy Feb 2015 – REVIEW

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a flyer for a gig. The name of the band caught my attention. Reading further I discovered it was for a show celebrating the 30th anniversary of Psychocandy… 30th anniversary? How on Earth did that happen?! A quick spot of math, I realise I was 4 years old when that came out. The mind truly boggles, and even more so when you consider that the Psychocandy album still sounds fresh today.

Jesus and Mary Chain - Newcastle O2 Academy Feb 2015
Jesus and Mary Chain – Newcastle O2 Academy Feb 2015

Reformed noise makers head to Newcastle Academy on a UK tour to play their much acclaimed 1985 debut album, ‘Psychocandy’ in full. It’s an album that helped inspire a generation of alternative music, not only in the UK but it’s influence has infected (both directly and indirectly) bands/artists across the globe.

The trend for album shows might be starting to wear thin. That said I could not resist this show. I wondered what it must have been like to witness it back in the day. I suppose that’s the main reason I’m here tonight. Tonight I am unapologetically guilty of seeking a noisy nostalgia binge.

Looking around the crowd tonight there is a really diverse mix of young, middle aged and some really cool older people. It goes to show just how their appeal has spread across generations.

In reality I only discovered them at the end of their original run. I think I heard a track on John Peel’s Radio 1 show around 1999, when ‘Munki’ was released. I’d missed the original hype, too young. But they appealed to a Sonic Youth and Pixies obsessed teenager and they still do.

They start the night off with a short set of seven songs, before a break and then they’ll be back to play the album. The lights lights dip. A very thick cloud of smoke descends on the stage. A familiar Scottish vocal, a guitar drone and reverberated snare drums fill the air as they break into ‘April Skies’. I must admit I had a little flashback moment right there. I want to be a student again going nuts to them in the indie clubs of Newcastle. ‘Head On’ came up next. The nostalgia is truly flowing now. The songs get progressively louder and louder as the set builds towards the main event.

The band seem fairly restrained but really tight during the opening set. The band are lined up along the back of the stage backdrop which is displaying iconic images from the album, whilst singer Jim Reid is half way on the stage and very obscured by a thick wall of smoke. Creating a physical barrier and distancing themselves from the audience. Giving them a hazy out of reach and detached feel. Dramatic yes, but it did feel slightly disengaged from the audience. Jim is still as stagnant on stage as ever.

They came back on for the main event straight into ‘Just Like Honey’ and a  huge smile covered my face. Now is the time for me to stand back and enjoy this timeless classic.

A beautifully surreal experience.

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