The Jesus and Mary Chain performed the first of a two-night run at Tel Aviv’s
Barbie club on Thursday night.
The Scottish band, whose only two
consistent members are brothers Jim and William Reid, were part of the pop-punk
movement of the 1980s. Their appeal stemmed from catchy melodies layered over by
strong guitar and percussion, aided by disenchanted vocals, both in style and
lyrics. The formula fit their image as “youth in revolt” and reflected the
Fast-forward 30 years, to Tel Aviv, 2012. I had my preconceptions
on the way to the concert. I didn’t think 50-year-old men could connect with a
sound and a style that was characterized solely by being young and disenchanted
with the state of the world.
The brothers took to the stage with
close-cropped hair, William a head of gray, Jim, more of a salt and pepper. Both
wore worn-out sneakers, ill-fitting jeans, plain tshirts and blazers. Blazers!
Were they intending to make a good impression on the rag-tag gang of hooligans
in the audience? They came on stage, sans opening act, to raucous applause. They
opened with “Snakedriver” and continued into one of their most popular hits,
The sound was great, Jim’s vocals possessing the same
worldweariness it had at 20. From William’s guitar emanated the noise the band
was famous for; it pounded your ears and reverberated through your
While the band harkened back to their classic sound, the audience
was more surreal, an eclectic mix of old and young. Middle-aged rockers
stretched their limbs and cracked their backs; they stuck to the edges while a
mosh pit was convened by sweaty, smelly twentysomethings.
resist jumping straight into the mosh-pit myself. It reminded me of going to
rock concerts when I was 14 at Christian youth groups in my small Long Island
Occasionally during breaks in the music, Jim would try bantering
with the audience. He would mumble something in his heavy Scottish brogue and a
heckler in the audience would retort, “We can’t understand a word your saying!”
With a careless shrug the band launched into the rest of their set. They
finished out the first part with “Happy When It Rains,” “Halfway to Crazy” and
finally “Reverence” before exiting the stage.
Despite the run-of-the-mill
performance the entire first set had been, the encore was a special treat. Maybe
at the realization that there’s only so much excitement five middle-aged
musicians can muster, help was enlisted through one-raven haired Israeli
Ninet Tayeb, also known as Israel’s first reality TV pop-idol,
took to the stage to accompany the band on “9 Million Rainy Days.” The addition
of a beautiful young woman brought out the best in Jim Reid. Tayeb’s soulful,
raspy vocals complemented Reid’s dark and ominous melancholy.
continued with “Just Like Honey” before Tayeb took a bow, embraced Reid, and
gracefully departed from the stage.
To what end do members of a band this
age still need to be playing the music they made in their twenties? As clearly
seen by the dedicated fans, it doesn’t matter the time or the place, it’s the
feeling and memories the music elicits that makes it worthwhile.
remained unresolved whether the Jesus and Mary Chain were just trying to squeeze
out the last bit of success they can, or they truly were happy to be back on
stage,. But it was clear that everyone at the Barbie was happy to have them
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