Review: The Jesus & Mary Chain - Middlesbrough Empire

The Jesus & Mary Chain at Middlesbrough Empire.
The Jesus & Mary Chain at Middlesbrough Empire.

After being missing in action for many years, The Jesus & Mary Chain played their second North-East date in six months.

The indie rockers performed at Newcastle Riverside in March and must have loved their visit to the region so much they returned to Middlesbrough’s historic Empire.

The Jesus & Mary Chain at Middlesbrough Empire.

The Jesus & Mary Chain at Middlesbrough Empire.

All this activity is to promote their first album in nearly 20 years, Damage and Joy, and there is a fair dose of it in the set, starting with buzzing opener Amputation.

The Reid brothers - singer Jim and guitarist William - have had a well-documented fractious relationship in the past, so seeing them onstage performing their classic songs from their 30-plus year career is something to celebrate.

The siblings are like the Kray Twins of indie rock - frontman Jim is the face of the band’s Reggie to William’s dysfunctional Ronnie, skulking in the background amid a howl of feedback from his buzzsaw guitar.

And both have an air of malevolence which seeps through songs like Head On, Halfway To Crazy and Darklands.

The Reid brothers have the nous to surround themselves with an excellent band - Scott Von Ryper on guitar, Mark Crozer on bass and Brian Young on drums - who excel on Reverence with its extended wall-of-sound, feedback-drenched, freakout.

The songs from the new album, such as Always Sad, Black and Blues and Moodrider, certainly don’t sound like they come from two blokes in their mid-50s who haven’t made an album in 19 years.

But the biggest reception from the capacity Empire crowd is reserved for classics like Happy When It Rains, Some Candy Talking and Just Like Honey.

The band rattle through Cracking Up and In A Hole during the encores before ending with War On Peace from the new album, which doesn’t sound out of place alongside the classics.

Leaving the stage in a buzz of feedback and dry ice, The Chain certainly delivered a thrilling set.