We Were Promised Jetpacks


After some unexpected problems on the door regarding the guest list, I finally take shelter from this cold Friday winter night in a packed Gorilla. Unfortunately, I have missed the first four tracks of this ten-year celebration of the band’s 2009 debut album These Four Walls. The opening four tracks contain two of my favourite tracks from the album: the opening number ‘It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning’ and the undeniably Scottish ‘Ships with Holes will Sink’ which is quite the disappointment but I’m in just in time to catch the euphoric ending to ‘Conductor’.

It has been a solemn couple of years for the Scottish alternative rock scene after the passing of Frightened Rabbit lead singer Scott Hutchison, an inspiration to many in the alt rock community. We Were Promised Jetpacks had supported them on a couple of tours and fellow Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro had covered their famous ‘Modern Leper’ in honour.

Half way through the performance of the album, lead singer Adam Thompson tells the audience, “I always look around the crowd for that one dickhead, tonight I cannot see him. Although now I want to hear you sing with a Scottish accent!” Then comes the riff we all remember and the blasting hi-hats that implode into arguably the most successful track of the band’s career, ‘Quiet Little Voices’. For the first time of the night the crowd are having a little dance, the whole crowd just seem to be in a trance by the tightness of the band and the album that maybe brings back fond memories for them.

Yet the album still has those Bloc Party-like uptempo beats we either remember with love or complete disgrace. It was what the 00s was about to give to popular guitar music, like a Big Mac we would all consume, enjoy and then maybe regret buying. Call it the upbeat tracks of the album but it graciously captures the time of the album’s release. I think albums like this are what went on to inspire the Catfish and the Bottlemen of today’s indie world.

After ending the performance of ‘These Four Walls’, they launch into a beautiful rendition of the almost fully instrumental ‘Keeping Warm’, with its bass that builds up like an army going to war. They end with the album’s acoustic closer ‘An Almighty Thud’. Although the evening was far from over.

Thanking the crowd for all turning up, lead singer Adam quite comically informs us that since the release of their debut album, they have in fact released four other albums to not quite as much success. He then asks us if we would like to hear a track from their latest album; we all cheer and with that he introduces a track off their latest album The More I Sleep the Less I Dream. The track is named ‘Hanging In’ and the lyrics to the track are of resemblance to the later Manics records.

It is also worth a mention that tonight the man behind the mixing board should hold his head high, I don’t think I have been to a gig in Gorilla where the drums have been so perfectly balanced through the sound. A down side to the evening is the obvious – the absence of the lead guitarist of the band’s career until May this year, Michael Palmer. His replacement unfortunately does seem to look like a session musician, who did not have the enthusiasm of the rest of the band throughout the set.

Maybe the idea of touring an album recorded ten years ago was what made him make the choice to leave. The whole anniversary tour is becoming a trend that lot of bands from the 00s are choosing as a route for guaranteed payday, although this an issue that I could write a whole other article about. This evening’s performance looked genuine enough to me, unlike others I have seen previously like The Fratellis a few years back.

Before ending, Adam thanks the crowd again and says that he would be up at the merch desk for anybody that wanted to come say hello before ending the night with the track ‘Repeating Patterns’, also off their latest album, the heaviest of the second set. All in all, this night has ticked off all the right boxes for celebration of a beautiful album.

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