We Were Promised Jetpacks // Live // XOYO // 12.10.11
There is an extreme overabundance of slightly above average music out there. Lots of bands that are pretty OK. Bundles of inoffensive, hard to dislike, well rehearsed stuff. These are the groups who you nod along to on the radio, see supporting other bands, or stumble across online. You give a brief murmur of approval, and then promptly forget them. It really is very obvious, but to excite people, you need to be different. I’m just saying. Preamble over.
Wednesday night’s show at XOYO was sold out, packed with sweaty bodies eager to see the Scottish four-piece We Were Promised Jetpacks. I’d heard several of their tracks online before, including recent single ‘Medicine’ (you can read NEN’s review of that here) but I had no knowledge or preconception of their live show. Their set blasted into life with a staccato, almost military sounding instrumental introduction, before they launched, somewhat underwhelmingly I thought, into the first few songs. Yes, the guitars and drums were very loud, choruses anthemic and vocals strong, but so far it was all very much par for the course.
But during the second or third song, something happened which caused a glimmer of passion to shine through the otherwise uniform prediction and non-personality of their stage presence. Someone in the crowd got a little over excited, bless them, and their beer ended up flying all over the audience, with quite a big splash of it dampening the singer. Initially he took it with a grin and carried on, but within seconds decided this was the wrong way to react, and instead said something that sounded like "puck off, runt" (I may have misheard, the guitars and drums were so loud you see). This was said in a very aggressive manner, and for the rest of the song a palpable tension pervaded the room. Despite the thuggish response, the net result made for hugely increased energy and a much improved performance.
But of course it couldn’t last forever, and after a few minutes of refreshing revitalisation, WWPJ reverted back to their workaday stagecraft. They looked bored, frankly. Yet they definitely have a strong fan-base, as the majority of the audience were rapt, ushering in each new song with loud hollers and singing along to reprises with heart and vigour.
Maybe I’m being too critical – there was nothing to dislike about WWPJ, but nothing to really love either. Tonight, they epitomised the kind of band mentioned in my preamble. If the only way to invigorate their performance was to douse the singer in beer, then perhaps more of us should have been a little more ejaculatory with our pints. Just a thought.
By Greg Harradine