The Jesus and Mary Chain - Manchester Academy
Psychocandy. Just as the name implies, the gorgeous tunes that make up this seminal masterpiece incorporated both the sweet and the sour. Hovering within these tunes are the ghosts of The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes and The Beach Boys, as well as punk forefathers The Stooges and The Ramones, who were in turn deeply influenced by sixties pop music. Glorious melodies, punctuated with resonating drums you can hear in the Spector girl groups: 'Just Like Honey', 'Taste of Cindy', the power chord stomp of 'Taste the Floor', the killer hooks of 'Never Understand'. Take away the caterwauling guitars and you have some sweeter than sugar pop gems. When you think back to some of the schlock clogging up the airwaves back in 1985, this album must have felt like a weird breath of fresh air. Beautiful melodies scratched up beyond recognition with steel wool. And miraculously it worked.
Despite some impressive follow-ups, Psychocandy was The Jesus and Mary Chain's chef-d'œuvre. Nothing they did after equalled it, and much of the maudlin shoe-gaze which came after couldn't match it either. And now thirty years later, the post-punk legends return for a handful of shows across the country, reliving the invigorating brilliance of a timeless triumph. And so it was, in the airless, cramped confines of Manchester Academy, that we got to hear it all again. The set begins with a handful of classic tunes pre- and post Psychocandy, including the title track (omitted from the album), 'Some Candy Talking' (from the 1986 EP of the same name) and a ripping rendition of 'Reverence' (Honey's Dead 1991).
After a very brief intermission (with the guitar feedback from the previous set screaming into the audience) the back-drop changes and the now iconic album sleeve fills the space. The band return, and the "rat-tap-tap" drum intro to the wonderful 'Just Like Honey' (shamelessly lifted from 'Be My Baby') pours out. Gone are the days of the 20 minute sets ending in near riot. The band sound sublime, the songs follow one after the other with minimum fanfare. They don't need any. The volume is deafening, the screeching guitar and ear-drum bleeding feedback almost painful. And it's wonderful. With black and white newsreels and home movies playing in the background, the band - still fronted by founding members Jim and William Reid - get down to business. Beautiful tunes like 'Taste of Cindy' and 'Sowing Seeds' bring some much needed respite from the high-pitch screams of 'Living End' and 'In A Hole'. When the final deafening notes of 'It's So Hard' end, Jim Reid tells the crowd "Well, that's it. Thanks for coming."
Dave Grohl said bands playing first albums live was "lazy", and he might have a point. Yet when derivative, Johnny-come-lateley bands are hailed as the saviours of rock and roll, maybe it's no bad thing to remind the public just what earth-shattering, groundbreaking rock really sounds like. Lazy or not, hearing this remarkable work live was a momentous occasion. All hail the candymen for bringing it back to us. It was just like honey.
Set list: April Skies, Head On, Some Candy Talking, Psychocandy, Up Too High, Reverence, Upside Down
Just Like Honey, The Living End, Taste the Floor, The Hardest Walk, Cut Dead, In a Hole, Taste of Cindy, Never Understand, Inside Me, Sowing Seeds, My Little Underground, You Trip Me Up, Something's Wrong, It's So Hard