Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Jesus and Mary Chain's concerts were characterized by the onstage feuds that would break out between singer Jim Reid and his brother, guitarist William Reid. Last night’s cohesive, straight-to-the-point performance at House of Blues suggested those days are firmly in the past, though the Reid brothers did appear to have a heated mid-show discussion regarding “technical difficulties.” Or did Reid say “technical differences”? Whatever the case might have been, it certainly didn’t derail the 17-song set.
The 90-minute concert commenced with the noisy “Snakedriver” and never let up, delivering overwhelming guitar distortion and noise that the five-piece band still managed to shape into recognizable (and memorable) songs. At the show’s beginning, Reid apologized for having a sore throat but his voice sounded sharp even though his brother’s wall-of-sound guitar riffs often overwhelmed the vocals.
On songs such as the catchy “Head On,” the band favored melody over loudness and displayed its terrific songwriting skills. And while the group never departed much from its signature neo-psychedelic sound, it did adopt a bluesy swagger for “Sidewalking” and emphasized the poppy harmonies of “Halfway to Crazy.” There were a few misses. The only new(er) song in the set, “All Things Must Pass” started strong and finished flat and the sultry “Just Like Honey” wasn’t as seductive as it should have been. But the jam at the end of “Reverence” was truly spirited and the three-song encore finished strong with the Ramones-like “Never Understand.”