Jesus and Mary Chain are the second Scottish band who formed in the 1980s to come through Perth in the past month following Teenage Fanclub in February. Previous visits from this sibling rock outfit have been a mixed bag, with a tepid festival performance and a messy outing three decades ago coming to mind. If those memories were still fresh in the minds of locals, it certainly didn’t keep the punters away.
Melbourne four piece Flyying Colours have been the opening act for the whole tour and were clearly road hardened by the time they made it to the Astor. The band’s shoegaze style was the perfect match to the headliner’s fuzzy leanings. Flyying Colours have a similar configuration to that of My Bloody Valentine, with male and female vocals shared and some shambolic drumming along the way. Their set started with some atmospheric tunes, with some faster more ‘pop’ inspired structures like Running Late driving the middle of their set. It was the later part of their performance when they let tremolo and slow swirling guitars do the talking that they were a force to be reckoned with.
After the opener departed, the stage was adorned with a large The Jesus and Mary Chain backdrop, and a collection of amps with the word “Jesus” spray painted across them. It had been 19 years since The Jesus and Mary Chain could say that they were promoting a new album, and they wasted no time into delving into the newest material with a solid take on the chugging Amputation. Frontman Jim Reid was showing no signs of his well publicised stage fright as the rhythm section overpowered the guitars during crowd favourite April Skies.
Having former Posies and Fountains Of Wayne member Brian Young on drums ensured that songs like Head On were delivered with a healthy dose of pop smarts. William Reid had stayed back towards his amp and been almost motionless for the most part, but he made his presence felt with some of his finest lead work during Between Planets, that also found his brother at his most vibrant. With the stage being backlit and obscuring the faces of the Reid brothers, and no words being uttered between songs, it was all about the quality of the tunes. Taste Of Cindy made an appearance albeit with less feedback than hoped, to show that there are killer melodies underneath the sonic battling of the siblings. That said, The Living End was as loud and messy as one could have hoped for.
There were some mid tempo dirges like Teenage Lust and Blues From A Gun that threatened to derail the momentum, until Some Candy Talking channelled the overdriven sounds and drugged haze of the Velvet Underground. Jim Reid had held the microphone in two hands in front of his face for most of the show, but feeling the crowd were on board, he would raise the microphone in salute at he end of each song. William Reid upped the ante during Reverence with some menacing tones, before the band left the stage whilst leaving their guitars buzzing against their amplifiers.
There were fewer polo shirts amongst the crowd than expected, but punters were still transfixed when the band returned to the sound of some prerecorded drums that were soon drowned out by Young returning to his kit to commence Just Like Honey, and a shadowy figure side of stage adding female backing vocals to the chorus. The five song encore included a wailing take on In A Hole. The tune that sums up the enigmatic nature of the band rounded out the night with I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The history of being reluctant and sometimes shambolic performers was left at the door on Saturday night as The Jesus and Mary Chain added some professionalism to their dynamic back catalogue.
Photos by Cam Campbell