My First Concert in Manhattan: The Jesus and Mary Chain

Last Friday I was able to set a big check mark behind one item on my list of Things to do in New York. Not that it was in the very top of that list. But it surely was somewhere in the upper third corner. And when my friend texted me that he had tickets for a ROCK concert, I was hardly able to say ‘no.’ Especially since they were ultimately for free, as he took on all the costs for the show to not feel stupid standing in the anonymous mass of intimidating teenagers. “They are performing their very last tour! I just can’t miss this!” my friend exclaimed and tried to carry over his excitement to me. He succeeded. I’ve never even been a fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain. An 80ies rock group from Scotland, they are not exactly what I would call a typical catchy tune for my generation. However, certain classics are timeless, of course. Such as “Just Like Honey” and a few more of their hits.

The show was scheduled to start at 8 PM. My friend asked me to meet at 9:30 PM. “I heard the warm-up groups are just not the best this time around” he jokingly said. How little he knew how true he was. The venue it took place in was nothing less than the popular Irving Plaza. For all of where this name does not ring a bell: It’s not Madison Square Garden or Webster Hall. But it is popular enough throughout New York to host good bands such as Green Day and the Gym Class Heroes. I myself have walked past it multiple times, always wondering why I saw a dressed up group of people waiting outside. “Must be some serious clubbing going on,” I thought to myself.

Last Friday the secret was finally revealed to me: The concert hall is close to Union Square, making out a very convenient point of transfer from anywhere in New York. Roughly a thousand people can fit in its amenities, balcony and VIP area included. When we entered, my friend proudly presented his two VIP tickets. “Great, get your free poster at the end of the show!” the security said in passing. Of course drinks were outrageously expensive. I remember paying 10 Dollars for a lousy pint of Sam Adams. I surely did not order too much after this faux pas, feeling my money melting away like sugar in the sun.

The VIP area was all the way upstairs, next to a bar-like zone, which also served food. We stuck our little VIP batch somewhere on our pants instead of clinging to it all night long. Next to this area, there is also a niche reserved for the “guest list” – distinguished friends, family, and groupies of the band performing. I really don’t know the difference in both, as the view was practically the same. Maybe they got free booze? That would indeed have been a great bonus!

Rocking it out with one beer and ear plugs!

While we were watching the second warm up group jamming out, we certainly had time to examine the crowd. More and more people were showing up beneath us, forming a tight group down on the dance floor. Photographers were already going crazy with their press pass and sticking their telescope lenses into the musicians’ faces. Whose music was, what I would call, just not my thing. After two similar sounding songs I pretty much had enough. They weren’t singing but only using the guitar and other band instruments to create as much noise as possible. We managed to buy some ear plugs and kept these on until the end of the show. The Psychic Paramounts – certainly a talented band if you are into this kind of music. I wasn’t. So much to building up tension before the real stars get to take over the stage.

Which they surely did! At 10:30 PM we finally got to see Jim Reid and the rest of the band. Some wild songs, some slow songs, some rocky songs – they had their entire repertoire during those 2 hours on stage. Even though I wasn’t a fan, it was great watching them in action. Since we were practically above everyone else, we could see the entire stage without anyone poking his head in our point of view. Even the obnoxious couple with the aggressive guy next to us was successfully ignored throughout the remainder of the show. His “whoo whoo whoooos” were annoying at first but then worth making fun of – without him noticing. One of the band’s gigs is to have a girl perform their song “Just Like Honey” and on every tour it is a different girl. One time Scarlett Johansson did the honors.

The Jesus and Mary Chain – full house
Performance of the mysterious dark haired lady

This time it was a dark-haired woman who no one recognized. Unfortunately for her but to the amusement of everyone, the lead guitarist was trying to grab everyone’s attention throughout this song and the remaining two songs of the show. Therefore we weren’t even able to hear how well she performed her part. I was pretty fed up with his attention-seeking because I couldn’t make out the words in the songs at all. But my friend, the true fan, just laughed and said this was their thing: At the end of each performance the lead guitarist always tries to steal the show and jam out until the bitter end.

The concert ended on a good note. I was glad I got the chance to experience it. If you ever seek out this spot, I hope you get the chance to go to the top. Best view ever! And we truly did get to snag a poster of the band before we exited Irving Plaza.

bye bye band!
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