The Jesus and Mary Chain make a gloriously noisy return with their new live album, Sunset 666, recorded at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles in 2018.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Sunset 666 captures the electrifying atmosphere of the band’s 2018 tour with Nine Inch Nails, during which they took on an unfamiliar role as the opening act for the shows. Featuring seventeen tracks, with twelve of them recorded on the final night of the tour on December 15, the show kicks in with the iconic drums of “Just Like Honey” and culminates with the ferocious euphoria of “Reverence,” an eight-and-a-half-minute masterpiece. The remaining tracks are from the December 11 show, and they serve as a mini-showcase of their Automatic album, including versions of “Blues From A Gun,” “Between Planets,” and “Halfway To Crazy.” The live version of “In A Hole” closes the album, delivering a powerful anthem of self-loathing that always resonates with fans. Interestingly, it shares some DNA with Nine Inch Nails’ closing song, “Hurt,” creating a poignant connection between the two bands’ performances.
The tour marked the first time that The Jesus and Mary Chain had taken on the role of a supporting act. Frontman Jim Reid recalls that, despite the initial challenge of not being the main attraction, the experience was ultimately liberating and enjoyable. With zero pressure and a relaxed atmosphere, the band delivered outstanding performances that resonated with the crowd.
The full show from December 15 was chosen for Sunset 666 because it featured a special guest appearance by Isobel Campbell, who had previously collaborated with the band on their album Damage And Joy. Isobel’s presence allowed them to include a duet they hadn’t performed in years, “Sometimes Always,” as well as “Black And Blues.” Her return to the stage after a period of reclusiveness was electric, and her vocals blend seamlessly with Jim’s, creating a unique and powerful musical experience.
The live recordings were initially an unplanned surprise, as sound engineer Michael Brennan stumbled upon a USB-out socket on the rented mixing console. He took advantage of this unexpected opportunity to record the shows, capturing the raw energy and intensity of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s performances. While the recordings might not be perfect, with some minor imperfections and absence of audience noise, the overall aura of the album is alive and aggressive. The decision to keep the mistakes and cut only the extended pauses adds to the authenticity of the live experience.
For Jim Reid, playing in front of an audience has evolved over the years. In the 1980s, he felt pressure to explode on stage like punk rock icons, and he found solace in alcohol and later, drugs. After the band reformed in 2007, Jim had been sober for five years, and performing sober shows became a more enjoyable experience, allowing him to fully appreciate the music and connect with the audience. That control and composure are evident in the band’s performances on Sunset 666. The steady power with which they deliver their classic songs showcases the enduring passion and dedication they have for their music. Tracks like “Just Like Honey” and “Reverence” still resonate deeply with the band, evoking a sense of freshness and excitement, even after all these years.
For longtime fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sunset 666 is more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It’s a testament to the timeless power of music, with songs that continue to shape and intertwine with the lives of listeners. These songs have become a part of people’s lives, transcending mere entertainment to become a soundtrack of personal memories and experiences.