Punk at the Barby, 2012
By: Laura Kelly
The Jesus and Mary Chain performed the first of a two night special at Tel Aviv’s “Barby” venue on Thursday night. At the edge of Tel Aviv’s hipster neighborhood Florentine, The Barby is one of the most famous venues in the city.
The Scottish band, whose only two consistent members are brothers Jim and William Reid, were part of the pop-punk movement of the 1980’s. 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’s in revolt” and reflected the times. American teens were rebelling against Yuppie greed and coming of age in the United Kingdom meant needing to be anti-establishment.
Fast-forward 30 years, 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 t-shirts and
blazers. Blazers! Were they intending to make a good impression on this rag-tag
gang of hooligans in the audience? They came on stage, sans opening act, to a
raucous applause. This was curious considering 30 minutes earlier they had
walked straight through the general admission area to neither a head-turn nor second
glance. They opened with Snakedriver and
continued into one of their most popular hits, Head on.
The sound was great, Jim’s vocals continued with the same world-weariness he
possessed at 20. William’s guitar emanated the noise the band was famous for;
it pounded your ears and reverberated through your skin. 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, twenty-something’s.
Many a concertgoer then expressed blatant frustration at being run into by a
half naked, epileptic mosher. The band looked out at the ground with the same
blasé attitude I could only imagine they employed during the height of their
career. Occasionally during breaks in the music Jim would try to banter 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. It almost felt like a caricature of a punk-concert. The general sentiment could be seen in the one
pathetic attempt to crowd surf. One man, with one shoe, climbed atop his
friends, launched himself onto the stage, only to be pushed off by security. After
this, the crowd respectfully stood their ground and cheered waiting for the
|Sitting, wishing, waiting for the show to start.|
|Bass guitarist and Jim Reid, lead singer.|
|Jim Reid and Ninet Tayeb.|
Mere minutes later, the band came back on. 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 beauty. Ninet Tayeb, also known as Israel’s first reality TV pop-idol, took to the stage to accompany the band on 99 rainy days. The addition of a beautiful young woman brought out the best in the Jim Reid. Tayeb’s soulful, raspy vocals complimented Reid’s dark and ominous melancholy. The two continued with Just like honey before Ninet 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 there twenties? As clearly seen by the dedicated fans that came out, it doesn’t matter the time or the place, it’s the feeling and memories the music elicits that makes it worthwhile. I spent most of the concert with a pair of sisters, both in there forties. They told me they had been fans of the band from the beginning, a thirty-year courtship. I told a friend of mine I was going to the concert and she reminisced about how she first downloaded their songs on Napster. While at the concert, I couldn’t 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 town of Long Island, NY. Whether the Jesus and Mary Chain are just trying to squeeze out the last bit of success they can, or they truly are happy to be back on stage, everyone at the Barby was happy to have them there.