The Jesus and Mary Chain

Return fire

Return fire

After a decade apart the Reid brothers have rekindled the flame within The Jesus and Mary Chain. Mark Robertson remembers five moments when sparks flew.

The living room, London, 1985
Jim and William Reid drew out their plans for their rock’n’roll band down on paper long before they ever picked up their instruments. They knew how they wanted to sound and look but it was surely not in their master plan to be playing their first London gig in such environs. Creation Records chief, Alan McGee, was a friend and decided they were going to be the next Rolling Stones. He organised this show upstairs from the Roebuck pub called the Living Room because, well, it was the size of one.

The Riot, North London Polytechnic, 1985
The band’s notoriety had increased and ten-minute wall of noise sets collapsing into turmoil was expected, even if it wasn’t exactly de rigueur. This night the venue was wildly oversold and after the band’s set the crowd blew up causing £8000 worth of damage and destroying the band’s equipment.

The Rollercoaster Tour, 1992
Inspired by Lollapalooza, the band had the idea to bring together a bunch of kindred spirits to tour the country together, where they’d being greater than the sum of their parts. They rocked up at the SECC with Blur opening, pretending to be a punk band and not a bunch of floppy necks; My Bloody Valentine indulging in a barrage of noise and strobes that took up over a third of their set each night and Dinosaur Jr would amble around and generally look a bit lost between those mammoth solos. All the while the Mary Chain were big, bold and dirty, playing the gigs of their life. The experiment petered out but showed something different could be done.

Glastonbury Festival, June 1998
A gig that officially signalled the beginning of the end resulted in drunken acrimony – William unable to stand to play his guitar, Jim furious. They imploded on stage and limped on for another four months before splitting. The rift lasted nearly nine years.

Coachella, California, April 2007
Searing hot sunshine beating down is hardly typical environs for a band more comfortable in black leather but this show, topped with an appearance from Scarlet Johansson on backing vocals showed they hadn’t lost any of their fiery magic and gave an indication of what good things are to come.

Oyster Stage, Friday


Returning for a second year after its successful debut the boutique festival has corralled headliners Kasabian, Manic Street Preachers, Bloc Party, Paolo Nutini, Grinderman, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros and Goldfrapp. There will be five stages: 'The Oyster stage', 'Guitars and other Machines', 'Manicured Noise', 'Unknown…

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