Live Review: The Mystery Jets, Rough Trade (19/01/2016)

‘Maybe you’re just sending lots of love, there’s a lovely vibe in here’ murmurs bassist Jack Flanagan to the intimate crowd of Rough Trade. And he’s not wrong; the crowd treats the band like old school friends, chatting away with them like they’ve known each other for years. And, in a way, it does feel like we’ve grown up with the Mystery Jets. Classics tracks such as ‘Two Doors Down’ way back in 2008 ensured their place amongst British indie-rocks’ finest. But we’ve all grown up since then, so how has the band’s sound fared?

Well, not too bad, it turns out. Opening the set with the first track of the new album, ‘Telomere’, the track features less quirks and more of Blaine Harrison’s brooding vocal. Whilst there were obvious issues with vocals, the track no less showcased the band’s progression into darker territory.

“In a way it does feel like we’ve grown up with the Mystery Jets…”

After a fiddle with the vocals (“Hey Mr lovely Soundman, can I have a bit more of my voice and a bit less of William’s lovely guitar?”), the band launch into tracks ‘Bubbglegum’ and ‘Bombay Blue’, but are still plagued with technical issues (“Can I have a bit more of my vocals please darling?”). Nonetheless, the tracks show new depth to the band’s style, as they move from upbeat pop to more contemplative lyricism.

Promising us a nostalgic golden oldie, the band urge us to get our boogie on (“You guys aren’t too sophisticated to get a boogie on are you?”). Whilst the material has grown up, the band haven’t quite lost their indie-rock penchant for a party urging us to pretend you’re at an “indie-disco back in 2008”. And the crowd certainly did, as the band blast into classic track ‘Young Love’.

“The material has grown up, but the band haven’t quite lost their indie-rock penchant for a party”

Another throwback comes in the form of Radland’s ‘Something Purer’ which is met with a loud, appreciative roar. After the mass sing-along of ‘Something Purer’, the band urges more communal loving by telling us to just “grab the person next to you”. Describing the track as a “song for pondering life’s complexities, or making-out with the person next to you, whatever takes your fancy” the band play the concluding track of the album ‘The End Up’. William Rees takes the lead vocals on this track, his voice very reminiscent of Bob Dylan as he powerfully howls, “and I hope that I end up with you”.

Ending their set with an emotional tribute to their “favourite ever artist – Mr Ziggy himself” the band gives us a quick quiz of Bowie’s UK number ones (Space Oddity, Ashes to Ashes, Under Pressure, Let’s Dance and Dancing in the Street – FYI.) before launching in to ‘Five Years’. The original Mystery Jet (And Blaine Harrison’s father), Henry Harrison, is introduced on stage and he and bassist Flanagan have a very Pete/Carl moment, sharing the mic as they bellow out ‘FIVE YEARS’.

Sticking around for a chat and some signings, the crowd left with records scrawled in gold-inked signatures and a newfound enthusiasm for the band of our mid-teens.

Rebecca Marano

Image: Man Alive! via Flickr

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Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

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