Myxomatosis #12 – The Third Greatest Gift

So, I seem to have concocted a mixtape about, um…laughter.  Certainly, it may seem silly, but ridiculousness is a big part of my life.  According to Kermit the Frog it’s the world’s third greatest gift.  The utter silliness and infectiousness of the laughing scene (along with its corresponding song) in Mary Poppins remains one of the most memorable and joyful parts of that movie.  Perennial FAHH favourite Momus took his name from the Greek god of (mocking, unfair, and censorious) laughter.  It’s essentially what helps me get through my day, whether a complete disaster or merely mind-numbingly dull.  It helps distract from the nihilism and transcend the almost constant anomie that blanket me.  It drives my cultural consumption, from books to theatre to movies, and it helps me define myself and also connect with those around me.  Laughter is important, and I think it deserves its own little moment here.

Download Myxomatosis #12

Neon Indian – Laughing Gas

Bibio – Haikuesque (When She Laughs)

Electrelane – Enter Laughing

Flying Lotus – …And the World Laughs With You

Pere Ubu – Laughing

Secret Affair – Only Madmen Laugh

The Rest – Laughing Yearning

Spearmint – Making You Laugh

Mission of Burma – Laugh the World Away

Josef K – Sorry for Laughing

The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh

Regina Spektor – Laughing With

Deerhunter – He Would Have Laughed

Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing

R.E.M. – Laughing

 

 

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A Carnival Is Calling You: Eugene McGuinness’s The Invitation to the Voyage Reviewed

I haven’t been listening to Eugene McGuinness for very long.  I was really only barely familiar with his self-titled 2008 album and 2009 effort Glue under the name Eugene + The Lizards when his latest and third release, The Invitation to the Voyage, dropped a couple of weeks ago.  But one thing’s for certain whether you’ve been listening to him since his early days or only more recently: the man can write a fucking pop song.  On his first two albums these gems were largely unpolished and raw, but with the release of his third album there’s a sheen present that actually doesn’t detract from his songs’ quirky, satisfying melodies and sharp lyrics.  Of course, to go along with his change in sound there’s also a drastic change in image.  His messy, mushroom-y mop top has been replaced by a sleek and slicked-back ‘do and his turtlenecks and black jeans by sophisticated suits.  With this look he channels a ‘60s crooner or mod and provides a strong hint at his influences and idols.  McGuinness’s songwriting has only gotten better with time and The Invitation to the Voyage is by far his best and most singular album to date, crammed with brazenly catchy rock ‘n’ roll that doesn’t once sacrifice its weird, funhouse vibe for dance floor playability.

Opener “Harlequinade” is cocky and swaggering, a Commedia dell’Arte-themed late night romp through masked characters and a lot of dancing.  In it, Harlequin and Columbine are caught having sex, ecstasy is procured, and Clown and Pantaloon trade lipstick.  It’s a night out gone wonky and comedic, with you and your friends becoming these stock characters and behaving increasingly wildly.  Correspondingly, the song starts relatively minimally and becomes more bombastic as it progresses, adding horns and lots of backup vocals.  It’s an enormous song and more than accomplishes the task of announcing to listeners that it’s an even more confident McGuinness who’s behind the next 35 minutes of music.  Next is “Sugarplum”, an equally upbeat number devoted to celebrating the present (“For tomorrow we will rush and crush on the underground/And sure enough the wheels on that bus will go round and round and round”).  Of course, this is Eugene McGuinness’s world and so it’s not as perfect as that, particularly when he sings “I should have said it when I had credit/I should have just let it all out/We could be painting this town red/Instead of dwelling in these dungeons of doubt.”  How does he escape these oppressive thoughts?  By imagining a night out with his sugarplum that’s so transcendent all of his insecurities and indecision are crowded out by lust and confidence.  His opening lyric gives it all away: “Come Sugarplum, where we are bold as brass/Cartwheel to our kingdom through the looking glass/Drink until you’re drunk and in an ultraviolet flash/You’ll be catapulted to us, now what you think of that?”  Again, his lyrics allude to escape in the style of famous literary works and the swagger he’s trying so desperately to channel shows up in the music, with a driving, practically disco beat that kicks into overdrive when he repeats “I want you as you are.”  It’s a dance song, yes, but like all the best dance songs are, it’s a reprieve from monotonous daily routine in its lyrics as well as its style.

“Lion” is even more manic and aggressive than the preceding two songs, and the lyrical knives are apparent right from the start:

I’m sitting on the ventriloquist’s knee/

Allowing his hands somewhere they shouldn’t be/

My disgraceful quest for immortality/

An adventure in an airship inflated by my ego.

Behind the bookcase, start to study/

I’m stitching up freaks in my secret laboratory/

The subtext is dire and the sex is not on fire/

But if beauty is truth that makes you a l-l-liar.

It’s an absolute gut punch of an opening sequence and song, and the fact that McGuinness can turn his likely emotional turmoil into such clever and incisive wordplay is particularly impressive.  Perhaps the most exciting part of the song is after the second refrain, when the speed relents for an elegant but no less energetic interval in which he sings about wolves and “brutal wilderness.”  This is dramatically capped off by a solo guitar lick and then the angry bombast resumes, only to drop off for good forty seconds later.  The video clip for “Lion” is equally frenetic but in a different way; in it, McGuinness sings and stares while four vaguely alterna-girl dancers in blue and red follow him around and invade his personal space.  For all that it distracts me from the actual content and excellence of the song, the video is an accomplishment in itself – a very stylized and contemporary take on the old theme of a well-dressed male singer who is accented and surrounded by beautiful women.  In this case, though, the dancers definitely represent the person in the song who ignited his anger.  He doesn’t often acknowledge them but they don’t go away – they’re a physical manifestation of the bullies in his head.  It’s not a groundbreaking video or anything like that, but I think it does deserve a watch as it adds another dimension to the song.

“Videogame” isn’t angry and it isn’t played at breakneck speed, but the energy and drive on this album doesn’t relent here or anywhere.  It begins ballad-like, with drawn out phrases and a classic pop sensibility, but picks up ornamentation and drums along the way, culminating in a refrain that includes the lyrics “let’s fuck it up one more time.”  McGuinness sounds sad but determined, angry and yet committed to enjoying his youth whatever way that pleasure comes.  “Shotgun” is all bravado and sleaze, at first listen distinctive because it samples the theme from Peter Gunn but on subsequent revisits it proves special because of what McGuinness does with such a familiar theme.  It’s definitely still got that James Bond arrogance and danger, but the images invoked – Cleopatra, pens and swords, a flaming skull, and Mack the Knife – are more complex, and again, literary in a particularly British way.

“Thunderbolt” is overwhelmingly wordy and packed full of ideas, and there’s also a needy, masochistic element in the way that McGuinness repeats “Strike me like a thunderbolt/Strike me with a billion volts/I’m a commoner gagging out for common assault/Strike me psycho/Thunderbolt.”  This song also includes some lengthy intervals of fuzz guitar set against dramatic orchestral parts in the style of a ’60s crime film.  The end is particularly beautiful in its crazy culmination of all of these parts.  As McGuinness speak-sings “We’ll burn rubber, baby, with the boy racers through town” the horns slow and burn out languidly and evocatively.  The title track is lush and retro in the same way that McGuinness’s look is reminiscent of smoky lounges and old fashioneds in rocks glasses – in a word, lovely.  For a song dedicated to the way McGuinness loves his guy friends, “Joshua” is pretty goddamn sexy.  It’s sweet, too, and perfectly charming in its slight awkwardness and reliance on drama (that special agent-y bassline gets another go-round here).

If this album were predictable, it would end on another ballad like the frankly mediocre “Concrete Moon” that appears early on the album, but “Japanese Cars” is another dance-rock track that really doesn’t have time to be tentative.  For a person who wrote the lyrics “We said farewell and we synchronized our watches/Arranged for the meeting of our crotches” the subjects here are the next logical step.  About a tryst with an heiress, McGuinness knows he’s getting himself into trouble as her brothers follow him in the cars of the song’s title.  There’s the aforementioned car chase, there’s cocaine and sex in a bathroom stall, there’s the subsequent blaming of the girl and some self-pity to follow.  I don’t feel sorry for him, but that’s not the point.  It’s an excellent song and another fabulous interpretation of action film archetypes, with McGuinness casting himself as the protagonist and giving the well-worn story a personal feel.  That’s all on top of his mastery of the style, an electro-pop anthem with the danger and suspense of the action films he’s referencing.

It’s true that I’m not generally a fan of ballads and that I prefer my music to be upbeat, but I think this album stands out even if you don’t have the same musical tastes and inclinations as me.  I also love wordplay and vivid imagery and twisted versions of reality, but I really feel that it’s a through a feat of marvelous and prodigiously talented songwriting that all of these things coexist on this album.  I suppose on the surface it can be appreciated simply for its incredible pop prowess, but nearly all of these songs on The Invitation to the Voyage offer a heightened, almost hallucinatory experience of young adulthood: filtered through the over-imaginative mind of a kid still obsessed with James Bond and fast cars but combined with the jaded experience that comes from having taken too many drugs and being broken up with by too many girls.  As well, his interest in books, culture, and history come through in fascinating ways, making this an album that is highly enjoyable from the first through eighty-second listen (actually, it’s probably still good after that).  The Invitation to the Voyage is an enduring pop album for smart people.

Eugene McGuinness – Lion

Eugene McGuinness – Videogame

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Springing Back: The Monochrome Set’s “Platinum Coils” Reviewed

The Monochrome Set - Platinum Coils

The Monochrome Set, formed in 1978 out of the ridiculously nutritious ooze of the post-punk milieu, is most often described as a grievously underrated band that should have become much more famous, and whose impact is written all over the style of later bands. Their story also often includes their connection to Adam and the Ants. At the end of the day and the beginning of the twenty-first century, I think we all know who aged more gracefully and with more dignity; whilst The Monochrome Set’s frontman Bid has remained a dandy gentleman, Adam Ant has become a hostage to nostalgia and his own highwayman persona. Despite the Ants’ massive success in the early eighties, Bid’s band, including core members Lester Square and Andy Warren, was always the more interesting and intelligent one. And they steered well clear of the peculiar, postcolonial posturing in which several of the New Romantics indulged. Admittedly, I’m most familiar with the first phase of The Monochrome Set’s output, which includes “Strange Boutique”, Love Zombies, Eligible Bachelors, and The Lost Weekend, and several brilliant pre-Strange Boutique singles released on Rough Trade, but I hope to get more acquainted with the Japan-release-only years of the band’s second phase. Those first four classic records pulsate with ideas and lyrical genius, and contain stylish, avant-garde pop poised between surf rock, jazz, vaudeville, baroque, doo-wop, Spanish guitar, rockabilly, gospel, and circus music, casting sharp, post-punk shadows with the tension of a perpetual showdown at high noon.

It’s been seventeen years since The Monochrome Set released an album. In the meantime, I’ve been busy enjoying Bid’s other band, Scarlet’s Well, another aesthetically pleasing project, but with a different group of musicians and a more fantastical narrative structure (the album art is as exquisite as the musical concept, images of a dream-world that recall art nouveau, Aubrey Beardsley, medieval illuminations, and children’s book illustrations). Nonetheless, I was very excited when The Monochrome Set self-released “Platinum Coils” a few months ago. The shiny mirror-like sleeve features Lester Square’s wonderful monochrome illustration of Bid’s head effectively exploding with a surreal collage of objects, many of them from previous centuries and decades, and spouting ephemera like a cornucopia of medical references and human figures. The cover art also deliberately echoes their debut album, from the arch quotation marks around the title to the image of the diver in full flight, which has now shifted from the front to the back cover. The three inside panels of the sleeve are filled with “The essence of Platinum Coils.” At first glance, this fundamental nature of the album seems to be an alphabetical list of word association; a stream of consciousness meets a series of weirs to shape it into a selective dictionary. It begins with “A” and “Aardvarks,” and ends unexpectedly with “Yum.” You come to realize that these are the words that appear in the lyrics of the record itself; they become representative of an attempt to impose order on randomness, thus, ironically making less sense. The album’s content is appropriately eclectic and dream-like, that latter adjective not pertaining to woozy gentleness, but to synapses firing conflicting flare signals into the night.

With the opening explosion and spry guitar line of “Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome,” you’re plunged directly into the quick-witted world of The Monochrome Set. I find it a bit difficult to describe their signature sound, but it’s all over this album. It’s post-punk skiffle. Or indie quickstep. Or rockabilly tango. At any rate, their music is a far more colourful affair than their band name would indicate. The chorus, which features the lines “There’s a kitten on my hip, and it’s going on a trip/Up a river to my head, where it’s purring,” is beguiling and playful, yet its medical subtext belies another less frivolous level. In the surfy dance number “I Can’t Control My Feet,” the dreamscape features a cast comprised of a nurse, a porter, and a man with no hands “tripping the wax fantastic,” echoing the medical undercurrent of the first track. In doing so, this song reveals a second theme running alongside the surreal quality of slumber and dreams: incarcerated madness. The import of the album’s title, then, becomes clearer: platinum coils are medical instruments used to treat brain aneurysms. After a little research, I had a better understanding of the context of the title and the album’s content. Bid had apparently undergone this procedure for a brain aneurysm a couple of years ago. It turns out that “Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome” actually creatively refers to the catheter used to deliver the platinum coils to Bid’s brain, which shows just how fortunate we all are that his sharp brain remained intact.

Upbeat, easy-going songs like “Free, Free, Free,” “Mein Kapitan,” and “Cauchemar” are humorous with their extensive, bizarre wordplay, but they, too, paint a more pathological picture of institutionalization. “Free, Free, Free” is a dialogue between a patronizing nurse and a patient craving liberty; the June Bridesian shuffle of “Mein Kapitan” narrates a story about a patient who seems to believe he’s in the military and is being coaxed back into his cell with an inventive array of things, including Immanual Kant, Lou Reed, and peaches (it incorporates the magnificent line “if he plucks with plastic pick a minor sixth, over which, lunatic licks”); and “Cauchemar” is a mandolin-scintillated song about nightmarish, pill-induced delusions, ranging from sergeant major to vampire viscount to Grand Inquisitor, and the pleas to be restrained for fear of shooting a buttock in the trench, sucking arteries, pricking sinners in the sacristy, and any other tongue-in-cheek, euphemistic misdemeanours. The latin-infused, slinky “Waiting for Alberto” is one of my favourite songs on the album because it embodies dream logic in its hyper-realistic, but ludicrous details:

I’m waiting for Alberto
Will he bring me pears or apples or a bag of exotic
I hope it’s not bananas, bananas make me ill
With his mental pencil moustache, in a minute, he’ll be here
Smoking with curses; pinching the nurses’ bottoms
Oh, haven’t you met him

At the same time, the song represents the real mundanity of waiting for entertaining visits from friends whilst in a hospital bed. This experience is transformed into a fantastical, classy composition via Bid’s elegant turns of phrase and artful storytelling; for example, the chorus is sung in French and can be translated as “Oh, heavyweight, climb the thirty-nine steps/One shoots the shit here,” beautiful Hitchcockian reference and all. Bid’s jaunty, rich vocals convey the knowingness of the lyrical dexterity over top of the plinking, advancing guitar, sighs of Helena Johansson’s violin, and a wonderful guitar solo that mimics flamenco and shady French alleyways.

The tempo slows in “On My Balcony,” a jangly ballad that feels like drifting down a tributary of oblivion. There’s a mournful anonymity in the narrator’s position of watching from a lofty, unnoticed perch, which, due to Bid’s brilliant lyrical skills, could be a hospital balcony, but also a romantic, lonely tower in a dark fairy tale. This detached vantage point resurfaces in “Streams,” in which the narrator watches people slip by to excellent guitar and bass lines bobbing along with the ride cymbal.

The remainder of the album is more quick-paced. “They Call Me Silence” is a sinister creeper of a song as Bid’s vocals slip and slide in a menacing wraith formation. The music glides along like a spy tango as Bid sings of a sense of immobility and muteness, and a sabotage of the senses. It makes me think of what is left when the voices in a person’s head cease. The cinematic purview shifts as the spaghetti western facet of the band comes to the foreground in “Les Cowboys.” It features some excellent guitar twang, side shuffle bass, and clopping percussion; however, even the strange adventures of the “cowboys” are corralled by surgeons, nurses, and the day ward. The penultimate track, “I’m Happy to Be Here,” is a jolly, rolling track with periods of energetic syncopation, and ultimately, anticipation. The poignant imagery of “Slide down slowly to the floor, lie at my bony feet/Curl up like a fawn upon a grave, you’d look so sweet” takes on further meaning when you read about Bid’s brief collapse due to decrease in blood pressure whilst in hospital. The music flickers with life and celebratory fervor. The song’s last line is “Waves are lapping at your feet, come, sweet, and leave the shore,” which evokes freedom and the relief of release. The album ends with the brief track “Brush With Death,” a loose, wonky instrumental, which was penned by Andy Warren and appropriately features brushes across the snare. It sounds a bit like elevator music for Bid’s trip through levels of recovery. And it sounds like a variety show conclusion, complete with rim shots and soft shoe shuffle. Both connotations are appropriate.

“Platinum Coils” is a truly welcome return. Despite the fact that the record is replete with consciousness lapping at the edges of trauma, it is equally funny and witty, conveying the lucidity and profundity to be found in mental interruptions, half-sleep, and near-death experiences. In a way, this album is about taking stock. Gratitude for Bid’s recovery, check. Breadth of The Monochrome Set’s career, check. Refreshing musical hybridity, check. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest antics, check. Language acumen akin to Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, check. Clever clever band, check.

Order “Platinum Coils” from The Monochrome Set’s website.

Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome – The Monochrome Set

Waiting for Alberto – The Monochrome Set

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Myxomatosis #11: Summer in Me

Apologies for the lateness by over a week – I’ve been on some much appreciated holidays. On the bright side, you’ll be getting another mix from Laura this coming weekend as well. MP3s raining down everywhere.

Since I’m in a relatively relaxed state of mind (I’m not sure I can ever be completely relaxed – it may require something like the twenty T3s I took after I got my wisdom teeth out a couple of weeks ago), I’ve decided to make a compilation of some breezy, summery tracks. In a way, it’s a complement to Laura’s last mix. What says summer to me? Genres like twee, indiepop, ambient, chamber pop, folk, yé yé, and its Japanese off-shoot shibuya kei. They’re gentle and soothing, and you can imagine yourself swinging in a hammock, swimming in soft focus 60s film reels, or perhaps riding an old-fashioned bicycle with a basket through a European city whilst wearing a cardigan. Ahh…I feel dozy and shambolic just thinking about it.

You get some 60s cool courtesy of Margo Guryan; an underrated glam ballad from John Howard; neo-yé-yé from Coeur de pirate; light, sometimes trippy shibuya kei stylings from Flipper’s Guitar, Dimitri From Paris, and Hong Kong in the 60s; twinkling indiepop from Richard Hawley’s old band Treebound Story and from Stevie Jackson’s solo work away from Belle & Sebastian; dreamy folk by Breathe Owl Breathe and Nick Drake; the chamber pop whimsy of Owen Pallett; and apparently the most calming song in the world by Marconi Union. And of course, quite a bit more.

Download Myxotmatosis #11 here.

Take a Picture – Margo Guryan

You Can Take a Heart, But You Cannot Make It Beat – Hong Kong in the 60s

Summer Beauty 1990 – Flipper’s Guitar

Watercolours Into the Ocean – Destroyer

The Flame – John Howard

Ava – Coeur de pirate

Swimming in the Heart of Jane – Treebound Story

Dead Man’s Fall – Stevie Jackson

E is For Estranged – Owen Pallett

Reveries – Dimitri From Paris

Champagne Coast – Blood Orange

Swimming – Breathe Owl Breathe

No One Likes a Nihilist – The Most Serene Republic

English Electric Lightning – The Wild Swans

Summer In Me – Gentle Despite

Smiling in Slow Motion – Daniel Land and the Modern Painters

Empties – Rob Britton

Sunday – Nick Drake

Stand Where A Fruit Tree Drops the Things It Doesn’t Need – Snowblink

Weightless – Marconi Union

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Cracking Up: The Jesus and Mary Chain Live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Phoenix

The Jesus and Mary Chain have been on my bucket list of bands to see for many years, but even after the Brothers Reid unexpectedly reunited five years ago, I never thought they would come somewhere I could actually see them. So, clearly Laura and I had to fly to Toronto this past Friday to see them when they played their sold-out gig at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. With their songs of darkness and depression, sugar and suffering, rain and razors, equal parts Velvet Underground and Spector girl group, they ran a fascinating gamut between squalling feedback, grinding dirge, shuffling baggy, and pumping motorway melodies that capture the sensation of hanging your head out of the car window, and in the process, they came up with their own sound. There’s something appropriate about the fact that many of their songs, especially post-Darklands, sounded like runaway trains. The songs are bound to get away from them as they bash along towards twisted wreckage. They are always on the verge of falling apart, and in my opinion, that’s one of their most charming characteristics.

Opening band Nightbox was a laughably incongruent choice, as most opening bands seem to be, and played pale imitations of synthpop of the Van She/Cut Copy variety. And the lead singer reminded me too much of Jack Whitehall, but sporting Kings of Leon long hair and a vest fashioned from sweatshirt fabric, which was both humorous and deeply disturbing. Taking a glance around the venue, most of the other punters seemed to feel as underwhelmed as I did. Besides two girls at the front next to me, who were trying very hard to appear as though they were having the time of their lives whilst also trying very hard to push me away from the centre of the stage, no one was dancing, nor even smiling. Ironically, the irritating girls to my left seemed to be more excited and active during Nightbox’s set than The Jesus and Mary Chain’s. Perhaps my trusty, pointy elbow and the fact I wasn’t about to shift over had something to do with it.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Phoenix

Once Jim Reid sneered the opening line of “Snakedriver” with that utterly disinterested expression on his face and casual lean on the mic stand, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. There were several of us who just couldn’t help singing and stabbing our fingers along with those highly recognizable guitar solos by William Reid, whose lofty hair was constantly edged with a backlit glow. As I suspected from looking at setlists from their US tour dates this past June, the song selection and order were nearly identical. Not that I’m complaining (okay, maybe I would have added “April Skies”). Despite the blistering opening salvo featuring the melodic drive of Automatic and Honey’s Dead, I knew I wouldn’t feel satisfied until there was a proper screw-up, preferably one that involved Jim yelling at his brother or other bandmates. I didn’t have to wait terribly long—they made it through at least half of their latest new single “All Things Must Pass” before having to start all over again to hit the correct key. Though William wore his signature sunglasses through the entire show, I felt like he was usually wearing a rather knowing, smug expression, turning the conflict between him and his brother into a hilarious pantomime; Jim would shake his head, throw up his hands, and blow frustrated sighs as if to say “see what I’m working with here,” whilst William would just go on shredding as though hitting all the strings would eventually produce what was needed. Phil King, John Moore, and Brian Young took backseat to the sibling antics, but that’s to be expected, and they did an admirable job minding the brothers and anchoring them just enough to avoid total implosion. Rather than walking catatonically into the mic stand as he used to, Jim was more apt to drop the microphone altogether and then swear. I reveled in the fact that Jim’s smiles were always painful grimaces—he looked like he was half-heartedly attempting to look gracious when the crowd went nuts in the face of all of their errors and general shambolic performance. His grins weren’t the only things under strain. For the last half of the show, Jim had his fingers stopping his ears in order to hear himself, but why would The Jesus and Mary Chain bother with ear monitors? That would be like asking them to soundcheck.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Phoenix

They then returned to their early material with “Some Candy Talking,” full of furious clang and laconic delivery. I was even more excited by the insistent drumbeat of the outro because, according to earlier sets, I knew what was likely to follow it: “Happy When It Rains,” possibly my favourite song by The Jesus and Mary Chain. Even with some bum notes and lyrical flails which had Jim reversing in more ways than one, I felt a shiver race up the length of my spine. Electric cool, indeed.

For “Just Like Honey,” they were joined onstage by a woman who looked like she had stumbled out of a corporate cocktail party. I later discovered that she is actress Jessica Paré. This fact still gives me no idea of who she is, nor why she would be an optimal choice to sing with The Jesus and Mary Chain. I find it a bit unnecessary to have anyone come onstage for the backing vocal, but due to the imbalance in levels, I couldn’t really hear her anyway. Paré made herself more useful for the next song, “Sometimes Always,” which was originally a duet with Hope Sandoval. This song was also the only unexpected bonus that we got, prefaced by Jim saying they usually never play it. It did end up breaking apart in the opening bars, but went forward after a quick regroup between William, King, and Moore. Thankfully, Paré then departed after an awkward half-embrace with Jim. The set proper ended with an extended, mind-atomizing version of “Reverence” complete with frantic strobing. I remember thinking that this just may be the perfect overload of my senses and perhaps the most joyous onset of epilepsy.

The encore was the expected Psychocandy triumvirate: “The Hardest Walk,” “Taste of Cindy,” and “Never Understand.” Since the stage at the Phoenix is exceptionally high, I felt like I was teetering just as much on the edge as the band was, hanging on by my elbows and craning my neck into a hyperextended tilt. By this point, I was a sweaty, battered mess, but euphorically unaware of how much my legs wanted to give out. Of course “Never Understand” accelerated into chaos, including a false start, but it was a brilliant, concluding collapse. Or so we thought.

Just as one of the roadies had unplugged William’s guitar, the house music went down again with the lights, and the band came trudging back out. Jim muttered about forgetting to play one of the songs before they launched into the sludgy “Sidewalking.” I couldn’t have wished for a better, more appropriate finale. For this second coming of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the centre cannot, and should not, hold.

Happy When It Rains – The Jesus and Mary Chain

Never Understand – The Jesus and Mary Chain

All Things Must Pass – The Jesus and Mary Chain

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