The unflinching, uncompromising 'Psychocandy' the debut album from The Jesus and Mary Chain turns 30 next year. Still to this day, it's a powerful, painful listen, which stands totally alone. Readying themselves for an anniversary tour in nostalgia, brothers William and Jim Reid are back in the UK for their first shows on these shores since 2007 and as tonight goes to show, they've been sorely missed.
Never ones to play by the rules, they take to the stage for a pre-encore, rattling through a powerful collection of highlights of their career following their seminal debut album. After the powerful opening of 'April Skies' is the euphoric 'Head On', which sees a large part of the crowd yelling back the words and the way I feel tonight, I could die and I wouldn't mind. With what is yet to come, it's an undeniable truth. A pulsating, nihilistic 'Reverence' thrills, whereas the rarity of 'Upside Down' sounds like we're standing underneath an aeroplane as it's set for take off. It's a brutal, deafening onslaught of noise, yet still we're only some 40 minutes into the show.
For a band so unpredictable and confrontational, there's an odd juxtaposition between the aesthetic of the band and the formality of the show's concept. Fortunately, such is the unique vitality of Psychocandy's sound, that any fears of conservatism are obliterated in a sea of feedback. The beauty of 'Just Like Honey' quickly makes way for the sheer ferocity and animosity of 'The Living End' and 'Taste The Floor'. Not only is there violence in the sound, but amongst the crowd, there's a prevailing restless and intoxicating energy.
This isn't pretty music, William Reid's chainsaw-like guitar effects put paid to that, but there's a beauty and a pop sensibility at the core of The Mary Chain. Take for example, 'Cut Dead', which displays a tenderness amidst the feedback. Similarly, with the joyful 'You Trip Me Up', it's easy to see why The Mary Chain were once aiming to be one of the biggest bands in the world. Perhaps people's reluctance to deal with a lifetime of tinnitus put paid to those ambitions.
In spite of the predictability of the set, there's a tension about the band and their sound which still makes them so vital. No other record has ever, or could ever sound like Psychocandy, but if the Mary Chain were a band just starting out, the scenes of tonight would have been the start of a revolution in sound. Sometimes, nostalgia works.