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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Fog/Mist
Music
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The Jesus and Mary Chain have sweetened up their infamous live shows
Sugar high
on
The brothers Reid reunite without strife.
The brothers Reid reunite without strife.

Proto-shoegazers the Jesus and Mary Chain - who'll hit the Majestic Theatre for a reunion concert Sept. 19 - have changed some of the ways they pulverize crowds with distorted guitars and primal drum-pounding, even though they don't have much new material. The core of the band, brothers Jim and William Reid, no longer seem ready to kill each other. They've even managed to stay sober during shows. But that's not all: At a few shows, actresses such as Scarlett Johansson and Mad Men's Jessica Paré have joined the band for "Just Like Honey." Plus, fans can hear live renditions of other songs from Psychocandy, the band's classic 1985 album. These are great developments for a group that influenced so many others.

Still, an early characterization of the Jesus & Mary Chain - drunken snots who incited violence by playing woefully short sets with their backs to the crowd - continues to surface. It's worth noting that amid the hissing feedback and aloofness, the band expresses some surprisingly sweet sentiments. Here are just a few.

'Taste of Cindy'

It must kill the soul to ache so hard for a girl like Cindy, only to know she'll be done with you come morning. The Jesus & Mary Chain convey this feeling easily - particularly on the acoustic version of the song - by matching couplets like "She has me/We twist the sun and sea" with "But I just can't get away/Cindy kills me every day." It's the perfect sun-dappled melody for a bleeding heart.

'April Skies'

For the street toughs in the Jesus & Mary Chain, finding someone who'll walk "hand in hand in a violent life" has to be the ultimate relationship status. Alas, it doesn't work out, and all-consuming melodrama ensues as the "sun goes cold," the "sky grows dark" and things get personal, a conflict set against a lovely guitar jangle largely cleansed of the band's signature screech. But the act of offering up all that hurt shows real vulnerability and regret underneath that black-leather exterior.

'Sometimes Always'

The time-tested "we broke up, but I want you back" formula works especially well here because guest vocalist Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star was actually dating William at the time. She brightens up the melancholy strumming yet manages to sound worn down and tired of her lousy boyfriend's pleas to get back together. Surprisingly, it works out in the end.

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