the jesus and mary chain
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Manchester Hacienda - 26.06.85
Bob Dickson /
In how many ways will they knock you sideways? First, though, a clarification. The disquiet, unease and sudden release that The Jesus And Mary Chain can summon up and harness when they play has no bearing on violence or even volume. The most surprising element of the Chain-gang sound is how very quiet it really is and how strangely soft their songs are in their original format.

'In A Hole' took them off on exactly the right foot, an ambitious, climbing and ricocheting vocal battle with the group's other constituent element - dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction made audible, and in the live context William, Jim, Bobby and Douglas are better than on record at making all those sounds you hate and love happen right there in your eardrum - they don't need road drills, because they know about them; they don't need to smash their instruments (they probably can't afford to); they don't need taped sound effects - for they know how to mimic all those long, chilling and romantic gestures in sound.

Frustration makes the heart beat stronger. But just by playing 'Just Like Honey' they introduce fascinated richness, the floors are shaking with that dated, dateless Spector drumbeat-writ-large and Jim's voice is a million miles away in echo.

This is juke box music, cheap-to-own, power-of-pop, seven inch diameter music which, regretfully, isn't being listened to as such - yet. Where were the teenagers in the audience? Though not necessarily totally absent, and not necessarily at home chained to Wham! And easier things, it's a fact that music isn't the be all and end all of their lives, and THIS music wants to be.

They enter into a barrage of dic(h)ordant noise for a couple of minutes - and noise is good for the soul, Random abandon, a spate once again of dissatisfaction and wandering before 'The Hardest Walk' and the gelling of the pop symbol once again: the beat, the voice and the opposite-attracted guitar making a buzz like an electric short-circuit lengthened and threaded.

Deciding whether The Jesus And Mary Chain work instinctively on stage or whether they have a crafty plan for symmetry isn't easy. Their ingredients threaten to pull the Chain asunder. But they are an oddly self-effacing lot in a way, choosing to drown themselves in the closing minutes in the yearning arms of 'You Trip Me Up'.

No, there wasn't any crowd mayhem to speak of, nothing senseless like that. It just could have been louder, that's all.

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