By Charlie Catmull
When asked by my housemate what gig I was going to a couple of Friday nights ago, I was met with a blank stare when I replied with the band Mystery Jets – a look which could only be translated as meaning ‘Christ you’re indie aren’t you Charlie’.
This is probably a commonly expected but seriously undeserved response for a band who are now celebrating 5 albums and over 10 years of, well… being a band. And a very recognisable band, at that. For me, Mystery Jets are a group which fits into that frustrating gap in popular memory that some artists can’t help but fall in to, wherein everyone will know or recognise their songs when played out loud, but the song and the name of the band who produced it don’t align.
At this point in their career, the tunes they have produced—such as the pop gem ‘Two Doors Down’ or ‘Young Love’—surely should have put them on the popular culture map. But, maybe that’s the whole point of their retrospective, or as they title it, ‘Jetrospective’ tour (great pun by the way) which features the band playing all 5 of their albums to date in full on a different night at the Garage in Islington, London. As student budgets don’t stretch that far I wasn’t able to go to each night, but, the impression I got from the night I did go—the night they performed their 2012 Americana influenced LP ‘Radlands’ –was one of a self-indulgent fan service in an atmosphere where every punter absolutely knew who made these songs, unlike my housemate.
The Garage is a small venue with around a 600-person capacity, so the sweaty intimacy between fans and band was clear. With every song receiving a perfect shout of call and response, the introduction of collaborators and ex-band members such as Tribe’s Johnny Lloyd gained equally as much fanfare. Overall, the night was a celebration of their history.
Though enjoyable, it was quite a short experience – the album length is only around 45 minutes, followed by an encore of 3 of their hits, such as ‘Serotonin’. The tour itself does beg the question: where do Mystery Jets go now? Seeing a band perform to a crowd who are all explicitly fans can’t be beaten, but with the shows being so small, it remains to see what the direction is next. Does this retrospective moment signal the beginning of a hiatus for the group, or merely a looking back at their sometimes overlooked achievements before they ‘take off’ (knew I could get a jet joke in there somewhere) in a direction that finally puts the band firmly on the map? But, will this compromise the intimacy of their fan service and interaction?
I guess all can only be answered when they decide their next venture.
Featured image: DORK