the jesus and mary chain
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Jesus and Mary Chain : Glasgow Arches
Fiona Shephard /
We've tried subtle hints and mischevious jibes. We've dropped references to ear trumpets, walking sticks, and superannuation schemes. We've gone all out with the snide comments but the stubborn buggers just won't listen. No-one's going to tell them to put a sock in it and retire gracefully. And it's far too late in the day for a spontaneous combustion rock and roll Page And Plant are still with us.

And by golly, so are the blessed Jesus And Mary Chain, and it's clear that they're not leaving the party until the last Twiglet has been trodden into the carpet. So we're just going to have to get used to having them around. Oh sorry, we already have. And there's the rub.

Despite the bile of current single 'I Hate Rock'n'Roll', The Jesus And Mary Chain are no longer the cool pointy boot of indie rock, they are the carpet slippers. The brothers Reid arouse fondness in their audience, most of whom look like they've followed the group through a good many rebel campaigns and some of whom exhibit a distressing allegiance to the Mary Chain look; boys with bird's nest hairdos and pseudo-goth girlfriends.

Three options, then; get all rheumy-eyed and treat the gig as you would an Echo And The Bunnymen reunion tour, in which case the band are reduced to a touchstone for nostalgia, or ditch the baggage and judge them on current form next to the upstart competition, in which they sound like compentent outside contenders who might rock your world a bit but won't change your life. Or take on both views and end up feeling ambivalent.

Still avoiding 'Psychocandy' like the crowd pleasers they are, they breeze professionally through a medium-voltage set which casts its net wide over the back catalogue, as if to illustrate there's always been either a melodic or moody element to their music, and there always will be, too, so don't be giving them a hard time about diversity or nothin'.

'Happy When It Rains' pops up like a cheery stowaway. 'Sidewalking' sneers the same as it ever did, but doesn't carry off the sleazy grind of yore. 'Reverence' sounds like just as much of a Mary Chain lyrical cliché as ever.

Noel Gallagher has the right idea, fixing a specific lifespan to Oasis. He knows there's only so long you can write songs peppered with the same vocabulary. Just as Oasis make continual references to "Light/shine/live/various weather methaphors", the Mary Chain have long since exhausted their lexicon of "dead/head/dark/various weather metaphors".

The Mary Chain can still do it in the song department but for years there's been a feeling that we know what they can do, and that they should tell us something we don't know. With the realisation that they've come full circle with their feedback harmonies, it's time to evolve or die.

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