Live Reviews

The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Ogden Theatre in Denver (photos, review)

Rather than take their iconic back-to-the-crowd stance, The Jesus and Mary Chain faced a packed Ogden Theatre audience on Monday. The band looked over the crowd — an interesting mix of people old enough to have listened to many a Mary Chain mix on cassette or vinyl and even more that weren’t even born when the band’s first record was released in 1985. Making eye contact — though not entirely comfortable about it — Scottish brothers Jim and WIlliam Reid proved that their odes to feedback and nihilism from “Psychocandy” still resonate 30 years later.


Perhaps he felt he was looking the wrong direction in the wrong decade, but Jim Reid looked barely comfortable most of the night. He only shot out a few quick “Thank you’s” after some of the songs, and mumbled that they’d “…had a really good time” that night, but otherwise busied himself singing. WIlliam — the only band member sporting a wild, unkempt (albeit very, very gray) hairdo reminiscent of the giant dust-mop-tops the brothers rocked back in the early ‘80s — stayed put in front of his amps, coaxing layer after layer of hugely distorted (and fully expected) feedback from his selection of guitars. The rest of the band merely occupied the space to the brothers’ right, dutifully playing, and mostly just present.

Their set started with a short train of later hits — “April Skies,” “Head On,” “Reverance,” “Upside Down” — before they all left the stage. They made the main course of the night (a complete replication of the 30-year-old “Psychocandy”) feel like an encore. But it was definitely the reason most of the audience was there.

As soon as the familiar beats of “Just Like Honey” began, the audience was throbbing in time. After that, the band tore through the 14-song album, reproducing most pretty well, and definitely mesmerizing the earplugged crowd with their signature volume (kudos to the soundman, and the Ogden – the mix was near-perfect all through the night). There were a few flubs. Like when Jim appeared to be trying to sing “The Hardest Walk.” Gone, it seemed, were the days of exuberant nihilism woven through “Psychocandy’s” grooves, replaced by the more musicianly, later Mary Chain style. Or when he started “Sowing Seeds” horribly off key — only for the first few measures, thankfully.

Otherwise, as they trudged through the album they became more comfortable, as if they were clawing their way back through time. By the time they got to the album’s final two cuts, “Something’s Wrong” and “It’s So Hard,” they finally seemed to have reached a sort of comfort with themselves. Bathing the entire room once again in pulsating, distortion-drenched feedback and echoing screams, the band seemed to have reached their own rhythm and tone once again. And then they shut it all down and left.