The Jesus and Mary Chain’s seminal Psychocandy came out thirty years ago, an album which combined Phil Spector-style pop R&B with layers of fuzz and feedback in a potent combination that has lost none of its staying power in the intervening time. To celebrate, the band embarked on a world tour playing the album in its entirety. The final show of the tour took place at the stately Olympia Theater in Miami, and I had the pleasure of seeing them.
Sunny Miami was perhaps an odd choice for the notoriously gloomy Scots to conclude their tour, but the audience was suitably attired in the requisite black. Indeed, I contend that never before have so many goth moms been gathered in a single location. Anticipation was palpable among the crowd, however, while DJ Mikey Ramirez opened spinning an appetite whetting set of postpunk records. The final chords of Television’s “Marquee Moon” faded, the lights dimmed, the band emerged, and the attendees took their seats.
Jim Reid, greying and clad in a black and white striped shirt (reminiscent of the one worn in a certain video), stated that they’d begin with a selection of their greatest hits before launching into the complete performance of Psychocandy. The brief opening set struck me as a nod to their earliest days, when JAMC would play aggressive, amphetamine fueled shows spanning some twenty minutes, pissing off crowds and local councils alike. The crowd remained respectfully seated during opener “April Skies,” but leapt to their feet during the anthemic “Head On,” much to the chagrin of security. The assembled concertgoers continued to dance in the aisles, defying the allure of the cushy seats and the orders of frustrated ushers. They continued with a panoply of favorites, including “Reverence,” “Some Candy Talking,” and “Upside Down.”
After the foretaste, the house lights came up slightly. I thought to take advantage of the recess to grab another drink, but as I headed toward the door, the distinctive Ronettes homage drum intro of “Just Like Honey” pulled me right back. The rest of Psychocandy followed suit, prompting me to recall how nearly perfect it was. From the yearning of “Cut Dead” to the frenzy of “In A Hole,” the album not only just lacks mediocre songs, but almost every track is an out-and-out classic.
As the concert drew to a close, Reid thanked the audience before launching into a protracted, blistering rendition of “It’s So Hard.” The song concluded and the band silently waved farewell, leaving a guitar onstage to discharge feedback until the lights came back on. It was exactly the way the show should have ended: unadorned, unpretentious, and fucking loud.
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