5 Minute Gig Reviews: Mystery Jets

It’s the 19th of April, and Mystery Jets are ready for Brixton. On the 18th of May they will play their biggest ever headline show, and unleash their new album, Radlands upon five thousand unsuspecting fans.

But you see, the Mystery Jets have always been about odd contrasts. On their last studio album Serotonin they occasionally sung so sweetly and innocently about love that you could have sworn they were perfect to take home and introduce your parents, but then a little closer attention to the lyrics of Melt and Flash a Hungry Smile revealed an undercurrent of plain naughtiness. And the tour in the runnup to the Jets’ enormous Brixton date is no less of a contrast; they chose to play their new album to a series of the nation’s smallest grottiest venues (tonight’s gig is at the Tunbridge Wells forum, a 300-capacity venue that quite literally used to be a public toilet.)

Support came from the much-hyped Birmingham indie band Peace, who would have likely inspired a less static reaction in the crowd if they had smiled once or twice, but nonetheless impressed with the strong grooves of single Follow Baby sounding like the Horrors’ next album if they miraculously decided they wanted to make people dance. They weren’t big on grins onstage, but in person they were nothing short of charming, and the rhythmic power of songs such as Bblood laid the reasons for their later signing to Columbia clear.

Mystery Jets’ set was a triumph. Opening with the new lp’s lead single Someone Purer, the band looked newly comfortable in their own skin, especially considering their long-time bassist Kai Fish’s recent departure (fans of good music should check out his solo album, it’s very good) and proceeded to play a setlist including a fair collection of cuts from Radlands, mixed with rapturously-received classics. (there’s a photo of said-setlist to the right, though it doesn’t include the encore)

And this is why the Mystery Jets are ready for Brixton; they have an enormous wealth of quality indie rock to choose from to play. Cuts from 21 and Serotonin both inspired mass-singalongs from the crowds, none moreso then the closing hands-aloft Flakes, whilst the moment that the band returned to the stage for the encore with the heavenly anthemic Alice Springs suggested they would be more at home headlining Glastonbury than Brixton academy. It was a pity that their debut album was entirely overlooked, but this was well compensated for by the newies, from the appropriately titled Greatest Hits (the now-current single) with its consonant-less chorus, to the cheeky Sister Everett, a song about a Nun who attempted to convert the Jets to hardcore Christianity, which Blaine dedicated to their support band Peace.

When I talked to Blaine Harrison after the show, he jokedly asked me to buy the new album with a plee that “we need people to buy it for us to survive!” Come late June, their magnificent 4th album failed to break the charts in the manner of the Maccabees’ recent effort, but the Brixton date was a sell out triumph that marked a milestone in the Jets’ career. The Mystery Jets may not have gained the position of pop dominance that they deserve, but damn it they’ve still become one of the best live bands Britain has to offer.

[This time photography comes coutresy of my shitty Nokia; there was no room for any professional business I’m afraid]