Last Night: The Jesus And Mary Chain At House Of Blues

marychain march14 1.JPG
The Jesus and Mary Chain
House of Blues
March 13, 2012

The Jesus and Mary Chain must be the definition of "acquired taste."

According to my admittedly brief research - which consisted of searching setlist.fm a couple of days before the show - Tuesday was the Mary Chain's first show anywhere in public since a Brazilian festival in November 2008. Even if that's not true, the brothers Reid and their three sidemen were definitely ragged last night, delayed by an hour supposedly due to traffic, plagued by an unforgiving sound mix and having trouble staying on the same page.

During the encore, when singer Jim Reid was about to introduce what he thought was the last song, the rest of the band had already left the stage. Should be a fun gig at SXSW Thursday.

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They almost dare their fans to like them. More than once Tuesday, including from the singer of the Rentals-like openers Light FM, I heard about one of the Reids telling a fan to "fuck off." Never mind they insist on playing at a volume that goes past deafening and approaches nerve-damaging.

The Mary Chain was loud as watching two normal bands at the same time. I still can't bring myself to wear earplugs after almost 20 years of reviewing shows, but after Tuesday I doubt even they would have helped.

And yet, like all bad boys, there's something about the Mary Chain that makes us fall in love with them. Their songs throb and grind, deeply sexual, but are suffused with sugar - constant references to candy and honey, to say nothing of the bubblegum melodies themselves.

And the living-in-the-moment appeal of lyrics like "The way I feel tonight, I could die and I wouldn't mind" ("Head On") will never go out of style.

Some songs, like "Sundown," came as a thick, viscous fuzz. Others came in windmills of Duane Eddy guitar, like "Blues From a Gun." Lead guitarist William Reid's windmills gave off a different color than Pete Townshend's, though.

Like purple, the color of a hickey, and a bruise. "Just Like Honey" and "Happy When It Rains" were primal and sweet, almost narcotic.

It was like being beaten into submission by a bag of gumdrops. You don't see too many bands these days who will give off danger, sweetness and indifference at such high levels, let alone all at once.

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Personal Bias: The Mary Chain was the last of the great 120 Minutes bands to appear on my radar, but once they did, I fell about as hard as everyone else.

The Crowd: Has probably been to Numbers more than once, just maybe not in the last decade or so.

Overheard In the Crowd: Speaking of, Big Kat's owner and local rockabilly promoter Edgar "Big E" Salazar told me he saw Nine Inch Nails open for the Mary Chain at Numbers. How loud must have that show been?

Random Notebook Dump: I skipped my one and only other chance to see the Mary Chain at Stubb's around 2000 or so. A day or two later, they broke up (onstage, I heard) and didn't re-form until 2007. They hadn't been in Texas since then.



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Location Info

House of Blues

1204 Caroline, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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18 comments
Mikenh
Mikenh

Chris Gray, please find another occupation.

CharlesC
CharlesC

Uh...they did not play Sundown.  Was this author even at the concert?

Muramasa2000
Muramasa2000

this is the worst piece of crap "journalism" since the story about the oral JMC fan. This rag is a piece of trash. This reporter hardly talks about the actual music. JMC put on a great show, the crowd loved it, they asked and got an encore, and they are one of the best bands of the last 30 yrs. This paper is just good enough to wipe my ass.

Guest~
Guest~

Loved it! Loved them! They were both as sweet as pie! Who cares if they are or are not past their prime. They still rock and I was so happy to see them live and to meet them after at The Hilton! If you ever reed this Jim, Thanks for the info on William Wallace. I didn't know he actually never wore a kilt! lol! Sweet, sweet guys! :O)

Krystal
Krystal

This is my best try at a setlist from memory. I honestly have no idea if they played some of these or not, and the order is definitely wrong. So, sorry, I guess.

SnakedriverHead OnHer Way of Praying?Blues from a GunTaste of Cindy?SidewalkerSome Candy TalkingCracking UpTake It?All Things Must PassHalfway to CrazyHappy When it RainsReverence 

James
James

So, if this show ended at 11, you're saying it was possible to go to JAMC last night AND make it to Fitzgeralds in time for Girls (who came on around midnight)? Damn! I would have tried it if I had known. 

CFG
CFG

The ticket guys said they had to get an inverter so that their equipment would run on US power.Supposedly went to Rockin' Robin where they  will buy it back for 1/2 price after the dates are over. The sound mix was not so bad once you got used to it. The vocals were buried  but, that's probably the way they wanted it. It was a glorious chaotic mess.  Hearing Reverence was awesome. Anyone got a set list?  

JayC
JayC

my ears were still ringing when I got home.  the opening and closing songs were the loudest shrills of white noise I've ever heard.

not sure if the Reid brothers were arguing - just changing the setlist on the fly, rehearsing for Austin. and HOB probably told them they had to be over with by 11.

DAC
DAC

I was in the balcony with earplugs and the band sounded great (to this long-time fan's ears).

I'll admit they were out of shape and William seemed his regular moody self, but Jim seemed to be into it and had a bit of audience banter at times (none negative that I heard).

I was happy to be there.

Rump Roaster
Rump Roaster

Different perspective here: this is my 4th time seeing the band in Houston. The first two were back in the heyday – Numbers and Vatican, late 80s to early 90s. That was when the band was basically a wall of fog, silhouettes and noise – and was spectacular.

NIN did open for one of these, and were terrible. Also equally bad opening for Peter Murphy.

Also have to disagree with Chris below. Was at that Fitzgerald's show, as well, which was bordering on "unplugged", relatively speaking, and was amazing. One of the best show's I've even seen from any band. To each his own, I suppose.

Last night was terrible. Poor sound (HOB is really not that good of a live music venue) a tired, lackluster, going through the motions, disinterested performance. Didn't even stay for the encore.

Per a conversation with one of the roadies, there was indeed a visa issue getting to the states, and the band had apparently been in town only three hours prior to taking the stage. So all of that probably added up to the poor result. Plus, let's face it, this band is past its prime. Sad to say.

(also: they USED to let William sing the songs he does in the studio – but no longer live?)

And Chris Gray: JAMC is a band you SHOULD be more familiar with as a music editor for HP. They are significant contributors to the sounds of bands such as My Bloody Valentine and many others.

Chris
Chris

I thought the show was great, but I'm a fan. Hadn't seen JAMC since a show at the Vatican on the Honey's Dead tour. All the favorites were played last night, and some surprises. Taste of Cindy was pretty awesome to hear live. Loud, but not the loudest show I've witnessed. That was easily a Swans show at Fitz years ago. My ears rang for a week afterwards.

Smedley
Smedley

Loud?! Pssh... I've been to Ministry shows... Last night's Jesus and Mary Chain show volume was musak compared to that, in fact, quite a bit lower volume from their own performances of the past.

Still... I thought the show was great, and the red Psycho Candy shirts are as well.

Corey
Corey

I saw that show at number in 1989, and yeah I was like 13... But it wasn't too bad loudness wise, my bloody valentine at the vatican was 10x louder. Nine inch nails were really good, and still wrote actual songs with hooks and melodies back then, not the sludge they purvey as music to the kids these days. The second to last JAMC before the break up was at Fitzgeralds here in town, and was pretty abysmal. 

Tzu Breeze
Tzu Breeze

I still had that white fuzzy noise sound in my ears when I fell asleep around 1:30, Enjoyed the show even though it was an hour late and loud as hell. Been a fan from the 80's but never had the chance to catch them live. Also, I  heard they were late because of work visa issues , which made them cancel their Sunday NX35 show as well as Mondays New Orleans show, so no telling where they slept the last few days

KING
KING

I liked that Houston pulled out a last second win in the "First to Host JAMC Reunion Tourney" from Denton. #MarchMadness

Mugen
Mugen

My ears still bleed happily from last night

CFG
CFG

 I did it, got there to hear the last song by the ban before them. It was a good show,  a little quiet though ;'>)

Rsanchez Sanchez00
Rsanchez Sanchez00

Ministry at Numbers definitely one of the loudest shows ever.  Plus, Mogwai at La Zona Rosa in Austin.  

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