Jesus and the Mary Chain at Massey Hall

Photographs by Dawn Hamilton.

After a number of years touring as a reunited outfit, Scottish legends the Jesus & Mary Chain finally injected a shot of fresh and released a follow up to 1998’s Munki.

Damage and Joy is a surprisingly good album from the Reid brothers.  The time off has done the brothers well with them sounding revitalized and fresh and hungry to take on the road.

The band pulled into Massey hall on a Friday night to level the fabled venue with an onslaught of volume that lasted 90 minutes, quite possibly the loudest gig I’ve been to at Massey Hall.

Opening with “Amputation” off of Damage and Joy, the band unleashed waves of guitar noise from a stage bathed in relative darkness with faint blue and red floodlights in front of a backdrop of the latest album cover.

While the Hall wasn’t packed the crowd sure made up for those absent with many approving roars over the course of a night packed with “hits”; “April Skies”, “Blues From A Gun”, “Far Gone and Out” and “Head On” were all highlights among many.

Now the Reid brothers have never been an engaging bunch live and that still holds true for guitarist William who hid under a mop of greying hair, much like the crowd, but Jim was downright chatty, offering up “Thank you, thank you” after every song and he even gushed about playing Massey Hall a couple of times.  It was strange behavior and at times I thought an impostor had invaded the stage.  Having caught the band a number of times in the 80s/90s I just was surprised at this “nice” version of the band.

Of the handful of new tracks aired, “All Things Pass” was the mightiest and the crowd roared its approval to the new setlist highlight.  After an hour on stage, the band closed out their set with a fierce “Reverence” before returning for not one, but two encores.  The first encore was Psychocandy-heavy and closed out with new track “War On Peace” another worthy addition to their catalogue.

So after 90 minutes my head was full of noise but I was happy.  Sure there was no “Sidewalking”, “Rollercoaster” or “Snakedriver”, but it would be hard for the band to play everything I wanted to hear.  It was also a bit comforting/disconcerting to see the sunny side of the two curmudgeons giving hope to those of us gathered to watch.

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