A loyal band follower, I have to confess that I saw The Mystery Jets playing for the fourth time last weekend. Friday 18th May found me following them to a gig at the O2 Academy in Brixton. The band is currently touring the UK following the release of their latest album ‘Radlands’ in April this year.
Rather disappointingly, we were too late to catch the three supporting acts; Peace, Theme Park, and Slow Club, and as we entered to take our place in the crowds the band’s sound-check was just taking place. It was my first time at Brixton Academy and it is certainly an impressive venue with a huge sloping main floor space from which to view the band taking stage framed by a large proscenium arch.
The atmosphere in the crowd was already buzzing and rose with excitement as the band came on stage to pick up their instruments and played straight on with the first song ‘Someone Purer’ from the new album. Their sound was immediately captivating; melancholic strummed guitar chords, insistent drum beats and mesmerizing vocals. If anyone had failed to engage with this first song everyone recognized the next track, ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth’, a favourite from their first full album ‘Twenty One’ which had everyone around us dancing. This up-beat tempo track was aptly followed by the divine ‘Serotonin’ which you rather aptly can’t help listening to in a state of euphoria particularly so when live and loud.
I thought the mix of songs they played was well chosen and a good combination from the three albums. A number of tracks from the latest album were interspersed with ‘Dreaming of Another World’ from the 2010 Album ‘Serotonin’, which was touchingly introduced as a ‘break up song…about having to part with your record collections’. ‘Sister Everett’ was preceded by a personal anecdote explaining how it was written about a religious woman the band met in Austin, and the title song from the new album ‘Radlands’ was given an even more personal touch, played in tribute to former member of the band Kai Fish who was somewhere in the audience with us that night. As if this wasn’t touching enough, Blaine’s father and original band member, Henry Harrison was actually brought on stage to perform ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ which is a rare appearance we were treated to at the Academy.
I wasn’t very familiar with the new album before the gig, and it seems to me to be slightly more serious and sombre in tone than the ‘pop-py’ sound of their first albums, yet still very distinctively recognisable and I immediately felt as if the songs were old friends rather than hearing them only for the second time. The mood was lifted again to end with old favourites ‘Young Love’ and ‘Two Doors Down’ which the audience were invited to sing along with, which indeed we all duly did – albeit much less tunefully than Blaine Harrison.
After finishing the set, an encore was undeniably inevitable as the audience kept on shouting after the band left the stage. We weren’t kept in suspense long at all as sure enough they were back almost immediately to round up with three more delights; ‘Alice Springs’, ‘Flash a Hungry Smile’ and ‘Flakes’ which finally ends the gig with an explosion of silver confetti raining down on us.
Fitting with the style of the venue, the Mystery Jets latest gig was definitely something on an epic scale. The size of the stage could have drowned the band out but the clever backdrop screenshot of a rolling mountain range, coupled with an impressive light show made the viewing experience just as captivating as the sound. As the gig progressed a sun rose and then fell behind the mountains, succeeded by a bright moon. Some might concede this as a bit too pretentious or ‘arty’, but I thought the visuals were particularly fitting to the more emotionally deep sounds of the new album. I may be biased as a loyal follower of the band but I feel like the Mystery Jets’ sound has matured, and so have I – but there is always room to go back to the old for a bit of guilty pop pleasure.
Image By Nina Sandhaus
The Mystery Jets – Lost In Austin (Live @ Brixton Academy 2012)