Miles Away – We Were Promised Jetpacks live


We Were Promised Jetpacks / Redolent / The Youth and the Young – La Belle Angele – Edinburgh – Tuesday 6th September 2016

Having been a little deprived of Jetpacks action over the last couple of years, last week’s show at La Belle Angele was straight in the diary when it was announced even if ultimately I wasn’t able to persuade MPK2 to accompany me. Definitely his loss.

With an unavoidably later time of arrival than for Mercury Rev the first order of business was to secure a decent spot since the front row was taken. And that proved more challenging than I’d realised.

If you’ve not been to the venue before there are four large pillars in the room with the speaker to the right side of the stage actually outside that square of pillars surely creating quite a lot of dead zones in the room. Eventually I settled on a spot halfway back which had both a view of the stage as well as unimpeded lines of sight to both speakers. But my opinion of the venue definitely took a nosedive.

I’d expected my late arrival to mean that I missed The Youth and the Young but I was actually inside the venue in time for their last song. That tune was a bit of an indie-folk epic played by an (at least) 8 piece band onstage. I wasn’t 100% sold but would definitely have preferred to see their entire set rather than that of the other support Redolent.

They were … okay, but never really caught fire for me although catching fire probably isn’t what they’re aiming for. More likely they’re going for an otherworldly, dreamy sound but for my money they lacked a little drama to provide a contrast with what they actually did do.

But drama was one thing that certainly wasn’t lacking from the headliners as We Were Promised Jetpacks came out to play one of the best shows I’ve seen from them.

There was a healthy mix of the old and the new and if I’d been permitted to pick their setlist I wouldn’t strayed far from what they actually they played. In fact my only real grumble was that there were only two songs from the excellent ‘Unravelling’ but that was perhaps explained by the fact that they seem to be back to a four piece. Nevertheless ‘I Keep It Composed ‘ and ‘Safety Numbers’ were certainly amongst the evening’s highlights.

Inevitably from the first bars of opening number ‘It’s Thunder  …’ the tunes from the first album turned into audience singalongs. My highlight though was perhaps the oldest tune with the least audience participation – a fantastic ‘Keeping Warm’. It was interesting too that, after years in the early part of the set, ‘Quiet Little Voices’ was saved for the final run for home – to great approval from the hometown crowd.

The trio of tracks from ‘In The Pit of the Stomach’ sounded as mighty as ever particularly an epic ‘Pear Tree’ which, on this occasion, didn’t close the show.

Instead that honour was reserved for the final of four new songs aired – ‘Repeating Patterns’ – which with its stop-start punk rock tempos and falsetto vocals managed simultaneously to be the most bonkers thing they’ve done as well as a fitting finale.

But the other new tunes sounded great too – ‘When I Know More’ was the lightest offering of the quartet with its sprightly bassline whilst ‘The More I Sleep’ was a particularly menacing, slow paced number with a brooding bassline and slabs of guitars carved from granite.

The new songs suggest strongly, yet again (and in spite of the title of the last tune), that the Jetpacks have absolutely no intention of repeating themselves. It’s a great trait for any band to have.

Indeed, whilst contemporaries Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad have, deservedly, gone on to greater things, I can’t help thinking that Jetpacks are, record for record, show for show, actually the best of the lot – even if they don’t always attract the attention that they deserve.

We Were Promised Jetpacks played:

1. It’s Thunder It’s Lightning  2. I Keep It Composed  3. When I  Know More   4. Roll Up Your Sleeves  5. Sore Thumb  6. Safety In Numbers  7. Keeping Warm  8. The More I Sleep  9. The Boy In The  Backseat  10. Brother  11. Quiet Little Voices  12. Pear Tree  13. Repeating Patterns

We Were Promised Jetpacks play St Luke’s in Glasgow on Thursday 13th October. Tickets available here.