Saturday, April 07, 2012
Mystery Jets / PEACE @ The Rainbow, Wednesday April 4th
The search for a huge Birmingham band (not fat huge, although I’m sure there’s a few around) has been going on for a while now. For a city as big as Brum, with such a rich musical heritage, we should be churning ‘em out like widgets. There have been a few success stories, Misty’s Big Adventure, Editors, The Twang, Johnny Foreigner and Goodnight Lenin have all flown the flag in one way or another and perhaps it shouldn’t matter if our local bands ‘make it’ or not...but, rightly or wrongly, to me it does. Recently one band’s been getting some really decent press though, PEACE, who proudly claim to make “music to fuck you in the heart”. Ouch. That can’t be good for your ventricles. On tonight’s performance they’ve certainly got the ability, look (all floppy fringes and black outfits) and tunes to more than justify the hype too. Previous single BBLOOD slaps you in the face like a meatier Vampire Weekend whilst elsewhere they channel influences from everything from the Velvet Underground through to the shoegaze movement and on to grunge. Yes, grunge. In fact the monstrously good forthcoming single, Follow Baby, offers up a neat indie twist on the grunge template with the kind of catchy riff that just might grip a generation. Awesome.
Three albums in (four if you count the US only release Zootime) and with a fourth one in the bag (Radlands, due for release on 30th April) Mystery Jets have been steadily compiling a pretty impressive greatest hits collection and adoring fanbase. Tonight the place was packed full of ‘em and from the moment the band came on stage through to the end of the encore the atmosphere was euphoric (I’ve rarely seen so much good natured crowd surfing in such a modest sized venue).
Having taken a year or so off to record the newbie, in Texas no less, this was one of the first chances to hear an older, wiser Jets (in an intimate setting too). That seems to sum up much of the new material in fact. Whereas a lot of the earlier stuff seemed in love with the idea of being in love (Young Love, Two Doors Down, Half in Love With Elizabeth) now, with hearts dented and livers possibly shrivelled, there’s more of a world weary air “You still swim around in the canals of my heart like cocaine” laments Blaine during one of this evening’s newly unveiled songs. Crikey.
It’s a suitable development though, after all life has a way of kicking the shit out of you and I’m guessing that even (or maybe especially) being in a moderately successful band comes with its fair share of bull...relationships, record company politics, crap bands doing better than you, not enough humus backstage...that sort of thing. This all comes painfully hot on the heels of the departure of the band’s bassist Kai Fish too (he quit on April 3rd, just one day before this gig).
Unsurprisingly given where they recorded it there’s more of an Americana feel to the new stuff with the band openly acknowledging the influence of Uncle Neil Young. In fact the first track from the new album, Something Purer, whilst a million miles away stylistically, shares a similar sense of yearning with Young’s Heart of Gold. Despite being a new song the crowd greets it like an old friend, prompting some healthy moshing at the front as the more reflective verses give way to a ‘get your rocks off’ singalong chorus. Blaine was in fine voice, half lost soul, half rock god.
“You guys are well up for it” observed William, beaming at the response. We were too. Later in the set another newbie You Had Me At Hello slowed the pace right down, touching Gram Parsons territory. Impressive stuff. Sister Everett, seemingly inspired by William’s encounter with a fundamentalist Catholic nun, fused Steely Dan’s laidback charm with a lyric to Kings Of Leon’s raw country rock and Lost In Austin sounded like Radiohead’s Creep being shagged senseless by The Eagles Hotel California. Hubba hubba. Radlands deserves to be as big as the state that birthed it...and that’s huge.
The band reserved plenty of space for their older stuff too though with material from all of their previous releases getting a look in, including Half in Love With Elizabeth, Seratonin, Two Doors Down and a particularly enthusiastic Show Me The Light (their last album’s biggest hint at the band’s new direction). No space for You Can’t Fool Me Dennis but you can’t have everything eh? By the end of the night a sizeable portion of the audience were a grinning, sweaty mess. It’s no mystery why...
PS: Respect due to new bassist Phil for doing a fine job this evening. Good work there dude.