Growing up listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain in my teenage years, I’d always wondered if anyone would ever sing me ‘Happy When It Rains’ as a way to simply express their feelings to me… I know it sounds cheesy but as frontman Jim Reid sang ‘You were my sunny day rain / You were the clouds in the sky’, I really couldn’t contain my 15-year-old self from jumping jovially and chanting the lyrics.
This month’s London show was part of the Scottish alt-rock band’s worldwide tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their seminal album Psychocandy. For a band whose career has spanned the tumultuous musical decades of the ‘80s and ‘90s, performing with such vigour was a treat for fans of all ages. London’s Kentish Town Forum wasn’t only filled with grey-haired, middle-aged men donning Psychocandy T-shirts in faded black or red.
Without any friendly banter whatsoever, Jim Reid kicked off the 90-minute set with ‘April Skies’, a track from Darklands, immediately calming the mood with its melancholy distorted guitar. The set then took an unpredicted turn with a series of songs from Automatic. ‘Head On’ was a blast of full-on rock grandeur with ‘Blues from a Gun’ providing a soul-burningly intense five minutes of classic rock theatre. ‘Between Planets’ satisfied listeners with Jim’s ill-tempered wail over droning guitar sounds. And, naturally, the crowd cheered as soon as the dreamy guitar strumming from ‘Some Candy Talking’ swaggered in. As Jim crooned repetitively ‘I want your candy’, I too couldn’t help but sing along.
The encore was everything I had hoped for: Psychocandy’s best tracks played at full throttle. I felt myself in the midst of a dark catharsis on hearing the caveman-like drumbeat of ‘Just Like Honey’. And all too quickly, it gave way to the delightfully cacophonous ‘Never Understand’.
As the old and young fans alike muddled together in a moshpit daze, the Reid Brothers and co. proved again and again why they deserve their treasured place in music history. Their riotous edge may have smoothed slightly, but mesmerising performances like these will put a smile on the face of every fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain.