We Were Promised Jetpacks / Jesus H Foxx / Waiting on Jack / Gav Prentice – PJ Molloy’s, Dunfermline – 26th May 2012

Last night’s WWPJ show in Dunfermline ended up a bit of a disappointment overall.

But that couldn’t be said of opening act Gav Prentice who, in another guise, is one half of Over The Wall. His set doesn’t sound that divorced from the OTW stuff (and I’m not clear whether these dates are road testing solo material or future Over The Wall songs). But his half hour, split roughly between songs solely played with his acoustic guitar and those featuring some additional electronic backing, passes quickly and enjoyably.

Not so the half hour played by Waiting On Jack. I’ve seen them before and they made no more impression on me last night than they had back at the Woodside. I’m not even sure why that’s the case, they’re not obviously doing anything wrong and they’re certainly not an identikit Scottish indie band. Yet, for whatever reason, I didn’t get them.

I was pleased to see Jesus H Foxx were on the bill as I’d been enjoying their download single ‘So Much Water’ in the last week or so. But their performance wasn’t 100% convincing either. I did enjoy them but ‘So Much Water’ was dispensed with early on and, although I’d heard the LP once, the next 2 or 3 songs kind of drifted by. Things did pick up again with the final few songs though, sufficiently so that I’ll persevere with their LP to see if I can figure out their collision of easy listening jazz and Pavement.

As for the headliners, well it’s fair to say I’ve enjoyed plenty more Jetpacks performances in the past than I did last night’s. That’s despite the fact that there was technically nothing wrong with the show – it sounded great and increasingly they seem to be carrying the intensity of Black Sabbath.

But, for such a forward looking band, last night’s set contained a surprising amount of tunes from their first LP – and not necessarily all the best ones either. In fact that was true of the material from ‘In The Pit of the Stomach’ too (no ‘Human Error’ or ‘Picture of Health’). If I’d missed this one, on the strength of the setlist at least, I wouldn’t have been overly disappointed.

Now perhaps the preponderance of earlier stuff is explained by the different audience reaction to the ‘hits’ and the second LP material – full on apeshit for the former versus (relatively) quiet appreciation for the latter. But I’ve never before had the impression that the Jetpacks would pander to popular opinion.

Still, despite my grumbling, there was still plenty to enjoy – the mighty ‘Pear Tree’ may be their best song, there’s a new one (‘Peace Sign’) which is one of the evening’s highlights whilst it’s clear why ‘Quiet Little Voices’ is the crowd’s favourite (it just seems perverse to play it so early on in a set with plenty of oldies). Chuck in ‘Sore Thumb’ and an epic closing ‘It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning’ and it’s clear we’re not talking “bad gig” here.

It has to be said that the audience didn’t really help my enjoyment of the show though. Loud throughout (even through Jetpacks)  there seemed to be plenty of people there because it was the place to be, not because of any of the acts. And even some of those who were there to see the bands were so paralytic by the end that they’ll surely remember little of the show today. Or maybe I’m just getting old!

PS Where did Michael get that thousand yard stare from? He seems to have cultivated something of a demonic onstage persona over the last 6 months.

WWPJ Setlist –

1. Short Bursts  2. Quiet Little Voices  3. Hard To Remember  4. Peace Sign  5. Roll Up Your Sleeves  6. Sore Thumb  7. Ships With Holes Will Sink  8. Boy In The Backseat  9. Pear Tree  10. It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning

Here’s a live version of the new song ‘Peace Sign’ from SXSW: