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The first time I saw The Jesus and Mary Chain

Sophie Lou Wilson

Summer, 2015

It was a summer of possibility. School had finished forever and two days earlier, I had gone to prom expecting to spend the night crying in the bathroom. But, instead, I surprised myself by actually having a good time. A storm raged around the 19th century building as we danced. Towards the end, I ran outside with two friends to lie down in the grass and listen to the thunder. We said that moment felt like something from a Sofia Coppola film. But, more importantly, it was real.

With that moment came the realisation that more real and good things could happen soon. I was never going to see most of the people I went to school with ever again. I was going to move to new city. I was going to go to many more glittering nights like that one, but with better music and nicer people. It wasn’t only the rest of summer that held possibility. It was the rest of my life.

So it was in this mood that I saw The Jesus and Mary Chain for the first time, having discovered them a year or two earlier via Tumblr friends. I fell in love with them in the all-consuming way you fall in love with bands as a teenager. I bought ‘Darklands’ on vinyl. I listened to ‘April Skies’ so much that when I met a girl at uni called April two months after I saw them live, the first thing I asked her was if she’d ever listened to that song.

I’ve seen The Jesus and Mary Chain three times, but the first time on that balmy July night remains the most special. Going to gigs and drinking wine are things I love to this day, but back then they felt transcendent. It was a level of freedom I had only ever dreamed of, one I had spent years longing for from the confines of my teenage bedroom which I littered with pictures of my favourite bands. At that gig in Camden in 2015, I realised that life could be better. And not just better. I realised it could be magical.

This is what I wrote in my journal at the time.

5 July 2015

We spent the afternoon listening to Cherry Glazerr and making friendship bracelets on the grass outside Tate Modern. I wasn’t very good at it so mostly ate popcorn and talked about fashion and bands.

Later we went to Camden and ate crepes by the river. We bought a bottle of rosé then found a park and drank and smoked while talking about subcultures and boys. When we got to the Roundhouse, Eleanor got us both a glass of wine and we sat on the terrace talking about music and politics.

We went in and saw some of the support then after a short break The Jesus and Mary Chain came on. Jim Reid explained into the microphone in his Scottish lilt that they would play some hits first then come back on to play ‘Psychocandy’ in its entirety. They started with ‘April Skies.’ I SCREAMED. Drunk on the atmosphere and the wine we drank earlier. I lived my teen emo dream and moshed to the lyrics “I wanna die” from ‘Reverence.’ There were punks in leather jackets smoking inside and an old man in a Sex Pistols t-shirt screaming “come onnnnn!”

Earlier, on the tube, Eleanor had said that tonight would be magical. She was right. I got the train home in a post-gig blur. Antonio met me at the station on his bike. I sat on the back of it while we swerved down the pavement sharing details of our evenings. When I wasn’t worrying about falling off and into the road, I was thinking about what a moment of strange magic it was; one to rival the time we got pizza and walked back from the station after seeing Lorde.

The next day the last ever episode of My Mad Fat Diary was on, and I cried so much. It was all about building yourself back up again. There were no shitty repetitive boy saves girl tropes. Girl saves herself and goes to uni thinking about how far she’s come in two years. Rae had come so far and so have I. Two years ago, my life was about to descend into the worst six months I’ve experienced so far, but now I know I can let it all go and walk away and really live my life.

Sophie is a writer and nostalgic interested in pretty clothes, honest prose, sad music and happy days by the sea. As a teenager she liked staying up too late on Tumblr, writing angsty poetry, trying to dress like Tavi Gevinson and listening to The Smiths.


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