We’ve been waiting aaaaaaaaaaages for something from the Mystery Jets, it’s been 4 years since their last record and to be honest I had been fearing the worst thinking the next announcement would be about a break-up. But hip hip hooray out of the blue we get an announcement about an album and a smattering of tour dates.
I was then a bit apprehensive about what the new offering would be, the Mystery Jets have taken a very different tone and feel with each album and I just hoped that they wouldn’t decide to go down the electronic route (ewwwww). But once I got hold of the album “Curve of the Earth” – available in all good record shops etc etc I was extremely pleased to find that it a) was hardly electronic at all, and b) was really good. Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate a new album, especially from a familiar band and with a new sound, but from first listen I knew I was going to like it. It was another new-ish direction, but it was a road that made sense for the Mystery Jets. It is less poppy, more mature with a broader, deeper texture than previous records. After listening a few times I really got the sense of it being a kind of concept album, there are strong coherent themes that run though the whole record and after a while I found it difficult to listen to 1 song in isolation, it made much more sense as a whole, as a complete story.
I snapped up a ticket to the Glasgow gig, a bit disappointed that they were playing one of the smaller venues in Glasgow – the Art School – but was looking forward to it with great anticipation. In order to make the gig I had to call in emergency babysitting favours and drive around 200 miles, which just shows how determined I was to be there.
I’ve been to the Art School before, but a few years ago and in the smaller hall. At least we were in the larger hall this time, but it still felt too small for them. I got there early, but unfortunately there was a delay letting us in, so we had to wait in a very cold entranceway for what seemed like ages, and I had already checked in my coat before I found out. I did however catch a glimpse of William and Kapil wandering round. We eventually got in and I made a beeline for the front, determined to be down at the barrier. Actually I ran to the bathroom and the bar first (diet coke, I was driving) and was pleased to see that the whole venue had been kitted out to be fully accessible. Lifts to each floor and an accessible bathroom (and gender neutral bathroom). I know that venue access is important to the band, but I had never seen anywhere in Glasgow with facilities like the Art School. They support the Attitude is Everything campaign – as should you.
Support came from Declan McKenna. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he came out all confidence and with a band with 2 girls in it, so I was interested. He was young. He looked REALLY young. Like my cousin has a (teenage) kid who wouldn’t look out of place next to him. But the Mystery Jets were REALLY young when they started out, and almost everyone I see on a stage these days is younger than me, so I just need to get used to that. He was good. Well, the band were good, if he’s a solo act I’m glad he put together a band rather than using a computer backing. He’s definitely one to watch.
Much as I love the Mystery Jets, I’ve seen them a few times now and there have been good times and bad times. Luckily this was a good time. They were on top form, probably it was as good a show as the very first time I saw them back in the QMU. The set was heavy on the new record, there was a nice couple of more acoustic numbers in the middle (argh, I knew I should have written this nearer the time – Bombay Blue and Bubblegum? It may not have been, sorry, bad fan moment), a rockier section with my favourite Taken by the Tide. My other favourite Blood Red Balloon sounded amazing as well. There were the usual hits from yesteryear and surprise! Dennis, which went down with us oldies.
Since Kai left the band they have been working with new bassist Jack Flanagan, who I hadn’t really seen much of, but who seems to have been fully integrated. He actually spoke to the crowd much more than the other 3, perhaps they are pleased to have someone to take on that role. He’s one of those instantly likeable, without being arrogant or annoying, kind of blokes, and gave the show a nice lift.
They all looked like they were having a good time, which always makes for a more entertaining show. It was a longer set than I ever remember them playing before, it was the last stop on their tour and they seemed to want to make the most of it. Blaine’s vocals were stronger and richer than I remembered, but still had that beautiful vulnerable quality on the likes of Flakes. William had always taken secondary vocals but he has a larger presence on this latest album and it translated well to the live stage. Maybe they’ve both been off taking singing lessons these past 4 years, or maybe it’s maturity and experience but Williams’s singing seems to have improved measurably. There’s a descending run on the chorus of Midnight’s Mirror which was just sublime. And his guitar technique remains as insane as ever.
I sang along, danced along, cheered and got a face full of William’s jacket when he jumped down to the barrier. One of those gigs that you never want to end. Sadly it did. I bought a cool “baseball shirt” (long-sleeved t-shirt) and returned to the cold Glasgow streets. Some people were waiting by the tour bus, and I thought about it for a second, until the cold air hit my lungs and the rain started to fall and I remembered previous occasions waiting outside for a LOOOONG time for them to never emerge so I decided to call it a night.
I’ve heard them get a fair bit of radio play with the new stuff, so hopefully I’ll see them again before another 4 years pass.