The Mystery Jets @ Proud, Camden
May 23rd 2012
Seriously? Do I look like I’m fourteen? These are the first words that came to mind when I was invited to watch the Mystery Jets play an acoustic session at Proud, Camden. Standing two rows from the front, I expected to see the same chipper-sweet, awkward-but-cool group of boys come bounding on stage but instead I got age. I didn’t know who these men were.
The crowd needed no warming up as they plunged straight into a roar of “sha la la las” during the opening number. It was impossible to tell which the popular songs were as everyone clapped along with democratic fervour. Four songs in, the band had already fallen back on an oldie, “Dreaming of Another World” from their 2010 album, which gave the crowd a respite from the weeping indie, folk-Beatle sound their new material intermittently evokes.
The Mystery Jets had managed to turn a crowd of strange faces into a family (by doing nothing, might I add) as the audience clung to each other and sang “Happy Birthday” in appreciation of Blaine turning 27 that same night. Amidst the communal songs and cheers, I felt thoroughly left out. I suppose this is what the obligatory “gig beer” is for, because no matter how lost you are at a gig, at least you came to drink.
Considering that this month is the ten year anniversary of their first ever gig, the Mystery Jets were pleasantly lacking in the onstage pressure that most bands have when on a promotional tour. Perhaps it was the fact that they sat throughout the entire show, or that they were dressed as country singers but the mild smiles riding around their faces were demonstrative of a group of musicians who were at ease with their status in the industry.
Upon listening to their fourth studio album, Radlands, released back in April, it is only in hindsight that I can start to enjoy the gig I attended. The Mystery Jets are blessed with a loyal, travelling fanbase and after the better part of a decade I can finally admit that they are not half bad, maybe even quite good. Nevertheless, I still hold the same sort of sceptical distance towards the Mystery Jets as a Londoner does towards a Japanese tourist.