Link to home page

The Jesus and Mary Chain / Ride / Warpaint / Sleaford Mods

6 Music Festival @ Glasgow Barrowland (Friday March 24th)

By • Mar 25th, 2017 • Category: Gig review

You can always tell a lot about a gig by the T-shirts worn by its audience.

For instance, you can hazard a guess at the demographic without checking out the gleaming gleaming pates of the League of Bald Headed Men. Tonight, the item of sartorial attire is the Sonic Youth ‘Goo’ tee, a neck ahead of sundry Peter Saville and Jamie Reid-inspired gigwear.

The latter of course ties in to the punk spirit (and inelegant attire) of tonight’s openers, Sleaford Mods. It’s only 5.30pm but the duo are playing to a half-full Barras (how in hell did these people know proceedings would kick off so early?).

When we arrive they’ve just completed the 6 Music live broadcast half of their set with ‘BHS’ – “We’re allowed to swear now” they declare and merrily proceed to eff and blind their way through four more highly-charged rants. Singer Jason Williamson, following a heartfelt paean to our sponsors and indie radio in general, twitches like a Ritalin-deprived teen through ‘Jobseeker’ while his partner in protest hits ‘Play’ and settles back to enjoy his rider (doing what the Romans do in trading his usual Special Brew for a bottle of Buckfast).

Despite being, well, two blokes and a tape recorder, they seem to cover a slew of genres, even a nod to ‘Lip Up Fatty’ as the Lydon-esque leader rants his way through a mesmerising set. Its brevity, however, will not be the low point of the night.

A pessimist is never disappointed, and I come to Warpaint with low expectations. On the slim evidence of a ‘Later With…’ set admittedly, the trademark poor sound not doing the Californian foursome many favours.

I’m prepared to believe that the drummer’s CK T is ironic, though surely the Slits one being sported by the guitarist was part of a recent trademark violation suit? Still, they are, they inform us, “Music 6” favourites, so surely…?

Well, this listener is underwhelmed and unconvinced. Something of a sore thumb on the bill, they invite comparisons with Belly, but dash these with Fleetwood Mac-a-like vocal harmonies, and the worst bit is, they’d probably be quite happy with that comparison. There is one song which would have record label execs exclaiming “that’s the single” as a tune emerges from the morass of ill-formed songs, but in this case, a curtailed 20-minute set would have been something of a mercy.

Ride are something of a conundrum to this listener. What was I listening to during the early 1990s? Well, it certainly wasn’t Ride. They are commonly pigeonholed as ‘shoegaze’, that much I recall, but is that even accurate?

So I may be woefully unqualified to assess them given that their new single ‘Charm Assault’, played early in the set, is more familiar to these ears than any of the classics. The electronic pulse of ‘Leave Them All Behind’ in particular is met with the enthusiasm usually reserved for the Second Coming.

Mark Gardiner and chums seem to incorporate elements of everything from that era of indie music – the melodies on many of their songs hark back to Teenage Fanclub, but often propelled by great swathes of grebo guitar. And of course, a coruscating wall of noise and light – yup, MBV-style – to close.

Last time I saw the Jesus and Mary Chain it was Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange, as East Kilbrde’s finest (Roddy Frame not withstanding) played classic debut album ‘Psycho Candy’ in full. Before that, they treated us to a mini-set of The Hits, which to be frank left what was to follow in the shade.

Tonight, it seems, they may opt for the same tack, perhaps bending to the demands of radio for a slice of what is as close as we get to chart pop on 6 Music. And yes, they open with fine new single ‘Always Sad’ – “it’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that” quips Jim Reid. Swiftly followed with ‘April Skies’ and ‘Head On’, things are motoring along nicely.

And then… well, the Reid Brothers have never been known for playing the industry game. And if they want to play a set comprised mainly of tunes from their forthcoming album, they they will do just that.

Unfortunately, ‘Damage and Joy’ has been receiving mixed reviews – with the suggestion that the opening number aside, single ‘Amputation’ may be as good as it gets. And certainly much of what follows is rather ploddy material that seems to get slower as the set progresses. Indeed, the high point is William’s guitar solo in an otherwise ragged ‘Some Candy Talking’.

“This is our last one” announces Jim as another new tune blurs into the previous one, and I join the growing stream of people heading into the night. It may well be that a mini ‘hits’ set is on the way, but it’s unlikely to top the one from the Psycho Candy show. Been there, done that, got the T shirt.

2 Responses »

  1. what were you listening to in the early 90s, then? the Farm? the Soup Dragons? the Levellers? we’re dying to know; you can surmise much about your gifts as a reviewer from your first two sentences…

  2. having looked back to see what was around the same time as Ride, I’d say mostly the Wedding Present, PIxies and Pavement. The whole ‘shoegaze’ thing somehow passed me by apart from picking up a copy of Loveless on cassette – I can remember them being prominent in the Festive 50 but could barely name you a tune. Something which could not be be said for most of the punters on Friday…