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JESUS AND MARY CHAIN at the SXSW Music Festival. March 12, 2012. Rating: NNN
Jesus And Mary Chain reunited at South By Southwest. But just barely.
Singer Jim Reid, his lead guitarist brother William and the reformed Scottish band were coming apart at the seams by the end of their hour-and-a-half set at a smallish outdoor club venue in Austin. For most of the show, Reid berated his brother and other members of the band.
"Fucking turn it off!" sniped Reid after screeching feedback continued for like three songs.
"You were supposed to fucking sing on that one!"
"Oh cunt...Tune your guitar."
And much more frustrated muttering. He made a point of saying all this into the mic too.
It wasn't pleasant to watch - I was waiting for him to throw his tall can at his brother. But he kind of had a point.
William Reid's guitar was noticeably out-of-tune for two songs. And to be noticeably out-of-tune with all that distortion and feedback going on is not easily accomplished. At one point they had started a song three times before stopping to tune up.
I realize they may be rusty, all in their 50s and only coming together sporadically since 1999. But the elder Reid, the 53-year-old William, really should have that part down at this point.
The singing was not above reproach either. Reid showed a complete indifference to a few of his hits, coasting through Head On and Some Candy Talking without even attempting the high notes. He can still sound quite decent when he wants to, like on concert highlight Darklands, after the crew just got the smoke machines working.
The band's more inspired moments led to some unique displays of affection from the audience, including a naked man on stage.
Most of this was expected from the JAMC devoted. The band has been plagued by violence, walk-outs and on-stage fighting since the 80s. Reid was even arrested in Toronto in 1987, after swinging his microphone stand at some audience members at the RPM Club (now The Guvernment).
And when they started, before the release of the landmark Psychocandy, the band would purposely leave their instruments out-of-tune to get the unique sound that made them a cult favourite in the first place.
So this was all lite in comparison. Vintage Jesus And Mary Chain, you might even say.