Festival Music

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Light on the Shore @ Leith Theatre

Neil Cooper


HIDDEN Door’s contribution to Edinburgh International Festival’s Light on the Shore season saw the grassroots multi-arts festival show how pop culture works from the ground up. This was done with a triple bill of graduates from the sticky-floor circuit headlined by bona fide global pop stars, The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Spinning Coin are a glorious amalgam of west coast guitar bands who, following recent shows at Leith Dockers Club and Leith Depot, are able to work a big stage a treat. As does the two-woman power-house that is Honeyblood, whose sugar-coated grunge married to Stina Tweedale’s street-smart vocals hangs as tough as you like.

For full-on mid-life brattiness, though, The Jesus and Mary Chain are rock and roll incarnate. With white light bathing the stage, the Reid brothers’ current five-piece line-up are these days the epitome of louche professionalism. Inbetween snaking himself around both microphone and stand, a black-clad Jim Reid even mumbles an apology for the sore throat apparently ailing him.

William Reid hunkers in the shadows, eking out brilliantly brittle shards of whip-wire guitar noise. From the opening Amputation to Far Out and Gone and the biker gang chug of All Things Must Pass, this zig-zags fuzzily across several decades’ worth of increasingly triumphal-sounding vignettes. It’s abrasive enough to almost hide the siblings’ sensitive side, but even the extended Stoogeisms of Reverence can’t disguise the fragile bubblegum yearning of student union anthems Some Candy Talking and Just Like Honey.

An incendiary volley of Cracking Up and In A Hole follows, with a tantric War on Peace sounding like a theme in waiting for a remake of Apocalypse Now. This isn’t quite the end, however, as the quintet ricochet into a final, devastating I Hate Rock and Roll. Which, of course, they really don’t.