The Jesus and Mary Chain + The Black Ryder, Ogden Theatre, Denver, Colorado, May 11, 2015.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s seminal debut album, Psychocandy, is 30 years old. THIRTY. Marinate on that for a moment, please. To honor the pioneering noise-rock album and give us oldies a trip down memory lane, the band broke their show into two sets: a shorter set of assorted hits, followed by Psychocandy in its entirety. Walking on stage and slowly, deliberately preparing themselves, you almost wondered if they could still pull it off. Where were the wild Scotsmen who were known for infuriating fans with alcohol-impaired performances of sitcom-length setlists? These were middle-aged men. Could they really capture the chaotic, noisy magic of a 30-year old classic album?
The answer: a resounding yes. If you didn’t know better, you never would have suspected you were listening to a band 30-plus years into their career, playing songs they’ve no doubt played hundreds of times in front of thousands and thousands of screaming fans. Sharp-sounding and tight, buried underneath layers of feedback, scraping guitars and fuzzed-out bass, they sounded more powerful, more vital, that night than on any of their albums. It was at once a nostalgic, yet still important, journey. From the opening doo-wop drum beat of “Just Like Honey” to the cranky, goth-y finale “It’s So Hard,” the noise flew around the room like daggers, puncturing us, forcing its way inside. Near the end, as William Reid beating the last few screeches and snarls from his guitar, Jim Reid sang the line,”A poem in the head…of a poet who’s dead…” That certainly wasn’t the case that night. Older and grayer? Sure. A little rounder about the middle? Yep. But there were definitely no dead poets on stage that night, just a band delivering a classic goddamned album, somehow still in tip-top form.
Pleasant surprise: the opening act, The Black Ryder. Dreamy, poppy, gloriously lush songs, whispered and baritoned by Aimee Nash and Scott van Ryper, respectively. The Australia natives had me hypnotized through their eight-song set, sounding as if Lush and Mazzy Star had set up camp in the Grand Canyon and decided to cover some Sonic Youth and Belly songs. Highlight tracks: “Gone Without Feeling” and “Let It Go.” Check them out!
[authorbox authorid=”” title=”Words by David Elliott”]