the jesus and mary chain
home » articles »

Darkness Befits the Lyrics for Jesus and Mary Chain
Cathy Maestri / the Press-Enterprise
re: gig at the Hollywood Palladium, November 21, 1992

It sounded like a great idea to have the Jesus and Mary Chain on the Lollapalooza tour. After all, the Scottish band--led by brothers Jim and William Reid--pioneered the rolling waves of guitars now fueling an entire musical movement.

But as the original shoegazers, they just didn't fit in with the wild stage antics of the Lollapalooza bunch, and going on during daylight hours didn't help.

Thus was born the Jesus and Mary Chain's answer to Lollapalooza, the Rollercoaster Tour. With Medicine, Spiritualized, and Curve on the bill, the Jesus and Mary Chain was in its own element at the Hollywood Palladium Friday night, and it made all the difference in the world.

And there wasn't a Lollapalooza T-shirt to be seen.

Sure, they're still boring as all get-out to watch; in fact, lit from behind and shrouded in clouds of smoke, you really couldn't see them anyway. Once between songs the stage was briefly lit from the front, and it was almost a shock to see a band and speakers on stage.

But the dark confines of the Palladium were just right for the band's equally dark lyrics and carefully structured guitar feedback.

Some of the bands that have adopted that sound get lost in looping guitars and the din of feedback--not only do all their songs sound the same, but it becomes difficult to tell one band from another, especially live. (Unfortunately, Spiritualized seems to fit into that category.)

But not the Jesus and Mary Chain, which maintains the same sound without sounding the same. The Reid brothers incorporate catchy melodies with rumblings that are sturdy and well-formed. The set included cult hits like "Head On" (later covered by the Pixies) as well as a very cool Beach Boys takeoff, "Kill Surf City."

To make up for a lack of performance skills the band uses some clean, sophisticated lighting as well as some interesting film clips. Most are a la U2's Zoo TV, flashing words, symbols and images of everything from a shopping cart to snippets of "A Clockwork Orange" and the Beatles through a psychedelic haze that matched the music. But they also showed a video that featured the band performing for gyrating nude dancers--infinitely more interesting than the same guys standing around on stage.

Despite some technical troubles, Curve was far more absorbing to watch thanks to singer Toni Halliday. Her low-pitched keening goes a little flat at times, but she seems especially dynamic and sexy when compared with the rest of the shoegazer movement. The band uses its guitar din in effective bursts instead of a mind-numbing constant.

back to articles