Tripping Up with the Jesus & Mary Chain

jesus & mary chain

Jesus & Mary Chain, Fillmore, San Francisco | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

Last week’s post (“Rancid Reminiscence“) compelled me to rummage through issues of my old zine for the one with the Rancid interview I did in 1993. I couldn’t find it, but came across this tidbit in issue 16 instead: “Monday, June 15, 1998: Saw one of the bands of my youth, the Jesus & Mary Chain, again—and I swear it’s the last time, even though I wasn’t devastated by their awfulness like I feared.”

Ironically, I saw the Jesus & Mary Chain last month at the Fillmore (on June 14, no less, and at the same venue!), the first show of their mini West Coast tour. Defying my earlier vow was no easy task, though. Fourteen years hadn’t clouded my memory of Jim and William Reid’s painful on-stage bickering and cranky, Psychocandy-less performance, so there was much hemming and hawing (and fastidious review of their setlists from their Texas shows in March) before I finally concluded I’d regret not seeing them one last time.

Deciding whether or not to attend a concert isn’t ordinarily such an ordeal, self-imposed or otherwise. But when tickets are $50 and it’s a band you credit for transforming your outlook on life at an early age as well as informing your musical tastes, it can be a really big deal.

I haven’t slept enough this week to try to clarify my lunacy (or have I done a good job already?), but at the very least I can say no tears were shed and that I even enjoyed myself. Occasionally my heart skipped a beat. Other times it got caught in my throat, but that could’ve just been from all my yelling and singing.

With Jim and William joined by Phil King on bass, John Moore on guitar, and Brian Young on drums, the band played for at least an hour. Jim only dropped his mic a handful of times, William only turned his back to the audience to fiddle with his gear or crank up the feedback, and no one stormed off the stage. The setlist leaned heavily on Honey’s Dead and Automatic and included a smattering of my favorite Psychocandy tunes. It also featured their 2008 single “All Things Must Pass,” “Some Candy Talking” (which I own on 12″, 7″, double 7″, and the Modern Girls soundtrack), and the Darklands song that changed my life when I first heard it at the age of 13: “Happy When It Rains.” The wall of sound seemed more contained than usual, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless (gauging by their dirty looks and sideways glances) you were the three gals in front of me.

Other highlights:

  • Jim throwing up his hands in exasperation each time William screwed up the beginning of a song (which was most of them)
  • William, usually so stoic behind his guitar, cracking several smiles throughout their performance (such as when two women slowly crawled across the stage)
  • William working the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” riff into “Reverence”
  • Me pelting Jim in the chest with a wadded-up Ramones shirt on the first try
  • Jim not getting mad or throwing the shirt back in the audience
  • Jim telling John Moore to “shut up for a second” as William tried to figure out how to play “Hardest Walk,” the first song of their encore

C and I didn’t get to the venue in time to score a spot right against the stage, but my Olympus PEN E-P2 didn’t mind. Ever since I discovered its magical capabilities at the Stooges show last December, I love using it at larger concert venues. The Mary Chain aren’t the most exciting live band to photograph, but I’m thrilled to finally have a few decent shots of them (you can see more at

jesus & mary chain

“Far Gone and Out” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Blues from a Gun” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Cracking Up” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Halfway to Crazy” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Just Like Honey” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Reverence” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

jesus & mary chain

“Never Understand” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

I shot some video, too, which was a challenge since I couldn’t stand still long enough to capture full songs. Maybe one day I’ll splice that footage together with the bokehlicious fireworks footage I got from the Marin County Fair. Dreamy… [7/18/12: That video is here.]

bokeh fireworks

July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400


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