Last year, We Were Promised Jetpacks returned with their fifth album Enjoy the View but the pandemic stopped the band from doing a full album tour and tome parts it had to be postponed until now. Just as on the previous album tours, I was in for another album tour experience – been to them all – and my seventh gig with WWPJ. You never grow tired of these fine Scottish lads.
I know, many out there don’t think WWPJ would ever repeat their amazing 2009 debut album These Four Walls, especially their supermegamajor hit “Quiet Little Voices”, and although it’s one the most danceable moments at tonight’s show as well, many people seem to have missed out on how they developed as a band. Sure, their debut album has some wild energy but compare it to their latest album and you’ll find it very simple. If you ask me, Enjoy the View is by far their best album so far where they show off some great songwriting skills in “Don’t Hold Your Breath For Too Long” and “Fat Chance”, that boast of polished arrangements and pop hooks, or why not the funky “Blood Sweat, Tears”. Thus, coming out for this gig came with lots of expectations.
It’s an intense show already from the start. The Scots haven’t just developed their songwriting skills, they put on a performance that would have made the 2009 version of the band jealous. Utilizing the open stage area, frontman Thompson dashed back and forth across it, strumming his guitar, dancing up against his bandmates, and getting up close and personal with front row fans while head-banging and singing. It was only while he sang into the microphone that Thompson remained still, with his constant movements across the stage keeping the audience engaged and ever tracking his movements as their heads panned back and forth. But with We Were Promised Jetpacks, you know exactly what you’re going to get, and you get exactly what you want: a rowdy live experience. You want to dance and sing along and rip your t-shirt into pieces because you’re happy, that’s the feeling you get at their shows.
Without a second of hesitation, the group picked up their instruments and quickly launched into their set, opening up with their 2011 single “Human Error”. With no time to be spared, the band jumped from one song to the next, sweat beading from their faces in just the first two songs, and taking no time between songs for a break.
What strikes me is how much they’ve absorbed “the Scottish sound” live meaning they have added layers of noise reminding me of post-rock giants and fellow Scots Mogwai or, almost equally loud band, The Twilight Sad. It’s post-rock riffs combined with long versions that drift into well-known post-rock territory.
As the group reached the climax of their performance, Thompson would occasionally step away from the mic to sing, with his boisterous voice echoing through the venue, and even being picked up by the microphone across the stage, carrying his voice even farther.
They soon began to close out their set, and for the first time, for me, they didn’t end their show with their super hit song. As Thompson began to strum out the opening guitar notes to their most well-known song, “Quiet Little Voices”, the crowd immediately erupted into a cacophony of screams and cheering, as members of the audience put down their drinks and ran from the back to the front of the stage. As Thompson began to belt out the opening lyrics of the song, every fan within the building immediately joined in, with both band members and fans alike singing together in unison. But that wasn’t all.
They immediately thrust themselves into “Fat Chance”, one of the best songs on the Enjoy the View album, before wrapping it up with “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning”. To say the fans were engaging would be an understatement, but that’s what they were. There were plenty of callbacks and actual conversations between the band and the audience, although we could have made it without the drunk dude who annoyed everyone to the point that Thompson told him to fuck off (and he deserved it).
We Were Promised Jetpacks never disappoint, they play fast, loud, and perfectly. They are a band you want to see repeatedly, and I can’t wait for the next time.
Photos: Sophie Dobschall