published: 20 /
Former Jesus and Mary Chain star Jim Reid rarely plays gigs these days. In what is possibly his last performance , Olga Sladeckova sees him affect a in-part JAMC reunion with former drummer John Moore at the tiny London 12 Bar
It’s coming up to 8 and it’s getting dark. I’m walking through Denmark Street, the small London street, which was until recently also known for its book shop Helter Skelter – a haven to all music fans. The shop closed 5 days ago and is looking empty and bleak.
At the end of the street I turn left entering the narrow alley way leading to the small music venue, 12 Bar. If you ever were or still are a Jesus and Mary Chain fan, you would want to be there tonight. Jim Reid, the group's singer and songwriter, is performing a solo gig and I have a feeling it’s going to be a very special night.
The 12 Bar is split into 3 different rooms all connected by a bar. It’s still quite early but fans are filling up the venue already and it takes a while to queue up for a drink. Most of the people head for the room on the right. There is a small stage stretching from a corner along a stone wall. There are some spotlights in the room, all targeting the stage.
The first act, John Moore – yes, also a Jesus & Mary Chain ex member – comes up on the stage. He is wearing a big hat and a generous portion of glitter on his face which matches his very shiny jacket. When John starts singing, his voice is very powerful.
Half way through the set, someone comments on all the glitter on John’s face. One song later John pulls the glitter off and lets it float over the people in the audience.
The half an hour set passes by and John is awarded with generous applause and, challenged to make more music which he can’t resist, rethrones the stage playing one more song.
In the break before the next act I decide to pay another visit to bar and run into Reid. He looks very well and is friendly. Since the Mary Chain broke up Jim’s life has been through many twists and turns. Jim and Ben Lurie, the bassist in the Jesus and Mary Chain, first formed a band called TV 69. Later they formed a new band Freeheat and released the group's only EP, ‘Retoxed’ (still available through Pennyblackmusic store). Since then Jim has found new direction to his life. he became a dad in the summer last year to a baby girl Simona who is now apparently crawling and discovering the world. Unfortunately for us, the fans, Jim will now be moving out of London, but on more positive note leading a hopefully calm and happy family life.
There are still people turning up after John Moore ends his set, but the venue is now very busy. That tonight’s gig is a reflection in part on the Jesus and Mary Chain is proved when Jim and William Reid's little sister Linda comes on the stage next.
In the recent past Linda performed with her band Sister Vanilla along with musicians from Tompaulin. Tonight, however, she is accompanied on stage by Phil King and Shin (Earl Brutus).
She introduces herself with a shy but sweet voice. ‘Pastel Blue’, the only song that has so far been released, sounds very gentle and finds Phil and Shin strumming their guitars as Linda delivers the words.
In between songs Shin can’t stop joking and laughing. It gets too much on Linda. “Excuse him. He is from Japan” she apologizes. “I know naathing” reacts Shin in a voice reminiscent of Manuel from 'Fawlty Towers'
Linda also pays a memory to the Mary Chain with a song ‘Mo Tucker’ which she sang on the last Mary Chain album ‘Munki’. The half an hour set is then closed with ‘Can’t Stop The Rock', which speaks for us all really.
It’s just past 10 when Jim finally comes up on the stage along with Phil King. He tunes in his guitar and welcomes everyone. He is dressed all in black and is wearing a smart jacket. There is an excited air of anticipation as people squeeze tightly close to the stage.
The guitars and Jim’s great voice dominate the venue right from the beginning.
“The next song if for Julie.” Jim says, dedicating the next song to his girlfriend. The words “I’m just glad I found you. Just wrap myself around you” he sings with the deepest conviction. Gentle guitar music give the song a warmth.
But it’s not all about love. Another song reflects on the Mary Chain when Jim sings “Maybe we can make it. I really wanna to make it. The band broke down.” The guitars remain at a very discreet and quiet level which works well in contrast with Jim’s relaxed. but impactful voice.
‘Fucked Up Love’ then confronts the habit of drinking that is an inevitable part of rock n’ roll. Jim is not shy to talk to the fans and warns someone down the front not to leave their wine bottle on the stage. One song later and, as Jim moves closer to the microphone stand, the sound of glass crashing explains why.
It’s coming up to 11 when Jim and Phil close their set and accompanied by applause walk off the stage. “More! More!” the fans demand. It almost looks as if it is really over, but Jim is unable to resist his fans and returns back to his guitar without Phil, but also invites Shin and John Moore who sits behind a drum on Jim’s right side. It is a real shame Bobby Gillespie didn’t make it to the gig tonight… “This is like the old Mary Chain” admits Jim with a sign of sentiment in his voice. And so it is with ‘Never Understand’. There is a genuineriff and buzz to the music. It sounds just so vivid and real. As real as only the Mary Chain could have got.
With broken hearts we leave the venue. Will we see Jim playagain?
“Hope dies the last and rock n’ roll is forever.” – That’s what I believe in anyway…
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