Review: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Leith Theatre

In a city where live music has for decades been seen as a poor cousin to its noisy neighbour in the west, Edinburgh has done a fine job this summer in disabusing us of the notion that if you want to see big-name acts you have to hop along the M8.

The slew of open-air gigs in Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle have been devoured by music lovers, and Hidden Door’s contribution to Edinburgh International Festival’s Light on the Shore season has also been a breath of fresh air.

Of all the big gigs taking place in the Capital this summer, the appearance of The Jesus and Mary Chain at the long out-of-action – but now gloriously reborn – Leith Theatre was the one that jumped out screaming EVENT.

And so it proved.

The legendary Scottish band packed out the venue and put on a five-star performance.

The early birds in attendance were treated to a short but impressive set from fast-rising Glaswegian quintet Spinning Coin before Edinburgh noise-pop outfit Honeyblood showed why they are often talked about as one of the most exciting young UK bands.

The dynamic duo of Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers tore through a 30-minute set that included fan favourites such as Super Rat and Ready For The Magic, and by the time the girls left the stage a fair few of those in attendance will have discovered a new favourite band.

Impressive as Honeyblood were, this was The Jesus & Mary Chain’s party – and they were never likely to be upstaged by their support act.

Nor were they.

The East Kilbride noisemongers put on a blistering performance from set-opener Amputation to the closing I Hate Rock’n’Roll.

The band dusted off classics from the back catalogue including April Skies, Head On, Just Like Honey and Some Candy Talking, and though there were too many standout moments to name, Reverence, Cracking Up and Teenage Lust were particular highlights.

There’s less echo and feedback than the early days, but Jim Reid’s voice seems to have aged like fine wine.

The brothers Reid (Jim and older sibling William) are prone to a dust-up during their gigs, but there were no fisticuffs here. This was a heads-down, focused performance, with a polite ‘thank you” pretty much being the extent of Jim Reid’s between-song chat.

Not that anyone was here for the banter.

More than 30 years on from their first release, The Jesus and Mary Chain are as enigmatic as ever, and the Capital won’t see a better gig all year.

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