May 23, 2007

Jesus & Mary Chain - Webster Hall, NYC, 5/22/07

I saw the recently reformed JAMC last night at Webster Hall (thanks Jerry, Jim & Loz). I have to say, I went with some trepidation, but apart from a few missteps due to rustiness, they sounded great. The current line-up includes Phil King (ex-Lush) on bass, and the awesome Loz Colbert (ex-Ride) on drums. Opening with Never Understand, they played about an hour and fifteen minutes of a well balanced set that included bits & bobs from their entire catalog, including a great brand new song. A couple of highlights for me were the new tune, and Cracking Up (see below). Another treat was hearing them play Syd Barrett's Vegetable Man - the b-side of their very single. Amazing. My only complaint might be that William's guitar could've used a little bump in the volume & noise department - some aggro, if you will.



Going to Webster Hall was interesting. Back in the 80's this joint was called the Ritz, and I basically grew up there seeing countless shows. When the Ritz moved uptown to the former Studio 54 space in the late 80's, the hall became Webster Hall as that had been it's name in a former life. I think I've only been back once or maybe twice since then. I had forgotten what a great room it is - the sound is decent and the sight lines aren't bad. I lucked out last night getting a spot (a seat!) right on the railing in the VIP section. An attempted inventory of shows flowed through my mind for most of the night, and it was nice to see that room hasn't changed much since the early 80's.

It's hard to believe that the first time I saw these guys was 22 years ago. It was their first American tour and they played at Danceteria. Bobby Gillespie, who later went on to fame as the lead singer of Primal Scream, was their drummer at the time, and he played Mo Tucker-style - standing up banging a floor tom with mallets. They basically looked like this:



My memories of that first gig aren't spectacular, but I do remember they only played about 12-15 minutes (that's all the music they had!), and they were a complete shambles. Of course, at the time, they were all the rage in the UK press. They were being managed by Alan McGee (Creation Records founder) who was honing his supreme art of music press manipulation.

Later on, in the 90's I went on to work for the band's main manager, Jerry Jaffe, who remains a friend. The Mary Chain, although difficult at times, were great to work with. Very down-to-earth guys with a decent sense of humour, and honest. You always knew where they stood. They were funny as well...Here's a brilliant clip of a UK news piece on the band as they were just breaking over in the UK. Jim Reid on the bass having only two string: "Two more strings and you'd confuse the guy."

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Thanks so much for this! I've got my comments on the show up at blog.myspace.com/ellen9, w/some comments from similar old-timers like me and you - i.e. we went to shows in the 80s. We're not THAT old!
I, too, reminisce about the Ritz - went back to Webster Hall for the first time about 2 or 3 years ago for a Sonic Youth show, and I've been seeing lots of stuff there since Bowery Presents started booking the joint.
Really, it is one of my fave spots in the city. As you say, decent sight lines, good sound, and solid vibe of music lovers, for the most part.
Oh, and thanks for noting the Vegetable Man cover! I laughed aloud when they played that, but couldn't adequately explain to my companions, two friends in their 30s.
Thanks for the insight into the band and its management, too! Yeah, it could have been louder. Otherwise, great!

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