the jesus and mary chain
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Radio Music Hall, Oct 31 1994
Eric Gladstone / Rolling Stone
Washington, D.C.
Radio Music Hall, Oct. 31, 1994

Though it's not necessarily a reason to condemn them, the Jesus and Mary Chain have completed the inevitable slide from radical fringe to digestible pop. When Scottish brothers William and Jim Reid first brought their music to this country, in 1985, their performances were known for eardrum-rupturing volume and feedback-saturated melodies, a uniquely unsettling combination of the Beach Boys and the Velvet Underground. Now they appear to be just another packaged and predictable alternative act.

Amid a cloud of machine fog and an array of craftily programmed backlighting, the Reids and their three live-band members carefully orchestrated this Halloween show. It wasn't meant to convert fans so much as reassure them. While their latest album, Stoned and Dethroned, sports a stripped-down sound, tonight, the newer material ("Hole," "Everybody I Know" and "Come On") received virtually the same accelerated shuffle-dance treatment as the more traditional (i.e. noisier) fare: "Snakedriver" (from the recent Crow soundtrack) and earlier college-radio hits like "Sidewalking," "Happy When It Rains" and "Reverence."

Songs from new albums usually get a colder reception from audiences than hits and the capacity crowd in this former gospel auditorium was no exception to that rule. But the band members themselves seemed to be more motivated by the older material - an energy shift that's measured incrementally, at best. Either the Mary Chain have comfortably found their niche, or they're entombed in it. Only the airplane roar of William Reid's guitar as he left the stage hinted at the sonic boom of their groundbreaking debut album.

After that, the encore, "Sometimes Always" (a duet with Hope Sandoval of tour mates Mazzy Star), was a droning anticlimax.

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