The Word Alive
The Cellar, Southampton, UK - 1/12
We Were Promised JetpacksPrevious Next
author TL date 26/09/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN
On Wednesday evening I'm back at Pumpehuset for round 2 of my three day show triathlon, and tonight it's time for noisy Scottish indie-rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks to show the Copenhagen crowd how they've developed since their first show in Denmark two years ago, and since releasing their fine sophomore album "In The Pit Of The Stomach" last year. Their current tour is a short one, and so the band has mostly been playing with local support bands but none has been booked for tonight. Considering then that entry is more expensive than it was last night for the Japandroids show, somebody must think highly of WWPJ, yet that someone is apparently not part of a huge majority judging from the turnout, with the venue's downstairs room only being at about 50% capacity.
Drummer Darren Lackie
When the four young Scots take the stage however, it immediately becomes clear that theirs is not a show that relies on energy provided by the audience. The band open proceedings with a post-rock-ish instrumental intro, building from a single, quietly strummed guitar melody with layers and layers until everybody is banging their guitar/bass/drums feverishly for several measures. And that early climax is merely the opening fanfare, as the band surges on with songs "Keeping Warm", "Hard To Remember" and "Quiet Little Voices" getting aired early and things look and sound absolutely sublime. Each instrument is thundering loudly from the sound system in a perfectly balanced mix, flooding the audience with warm waves of noise, as each member of the band rocks back and forth looking like they enter a trance for each song.
It looks and sounds like the kind of show where no crowd interaction is necessary, and my friends and I are bouncing about with wide smiles before singer/guitarist Adam Thompson finally gives a brief welcome and asks for some small monitor adjustments after four songs. As has been evident so far however, and as will continue to be evident throughout the evening, if I need something to complain about, all I need to do is spin 180 degrees and look at the complety docile audience. Save for some gracious applauding between songs, tonight's crowd all stand fixed like statues with expressionless faces, looking like they're only here because maybe they read about the band in some trendy magasine.
This behaviour does not cease to baffle me, because when I look to the stage I can in no way fathom how you can stand about unmoved by the clinic in perfection Jetpacks are putting on. I swear I am not making this up: There is not a thing to put a finger on, not in terms of stage appearance, not in terms of lighting and certainly not in terms of the sound or of the selection of songs that follow each other like pearls on a string, with minimal pause between them. The darker, more contemplative numbers from "In The Pit Of The Stomach" appear even stronger than on album as they strike a great contrast in between the more light and youthful tones of the debut album "These Four Walls" and hence "Human Error", "Roll Up Your Sleeves" and "It's Thunder And It's Lightning" all sound positively out of this world as they roll off the stage.
Lackie and Thompson wrapped up in performance.
Frankly, I knew that We Were Promised Jetpacks were a good band, but tonight they are a band on absolute top form. It doesn't lend itself well to an eventful description, but compared to what hoops other bands jump through trying to entertain an audience, it is just mind-blowing how completely immersive WWPJ manage to be with a completely gimmick-free approach. Everything is simply perfect down to the smallest detail, as underscored by the fact that Thompson can stand back half a metre from his microphone, crooning lines that thus come out as a haunting echo, with the guitars never creating problems with the high sensitivity the microphone must be set to, to achieve this. This looks and sounds so good that we don't even feel like complaining about not getting to hear "Act On Impulse", "Conductor" or "This Is My House, This Is My Home". It is so good in fact, that it makes my normal reservations about never giving more than 7½ to shows where the crowd isn't into it seem completely and utterly ridiculous. Because I barely dare dream of the pandemonium this could've created in front of a more interested audience.