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Live Review: Mystery Jets

2 October 2012 | 9:15 am | Bryget Chrisfield

More Mystery Jets More Mystery Jets

Less people get a surprise these days when they see Mystery Jets frontman Blaine Harrison, who has spina bifida, crutching on stage. It's not that he ever shied away from talking about his condition; the band just chose not to point the spotlight on Harrison's physical limitations, instead wanting people to discover the band with their ears first. And Harrison's not gonna let those pesky crutches get in the way of wearing a stylin' tan fringed jacket!

When Mystery Jets played Hi-Fi in early 2011, the turnout was disappointing. And so it's pleasing to see a heaving Corner tonight as we happily shuffle around to get a better view of the Eel Pie Island group. It must be weird for the other band members to dance around Harrison while he's perched on a stool and, even more so, for the frontman to remain seated during their perky, dance-poptastic offerings such as Someone Purer. The way Harrison emphasizes the 't' in “beau-t-iful” is endearing and as soon as the second voice comes in to echo the vocal melody, a couple of octaves lower, we're spellbound. Guitarist William Rees boasts an equally majestic set of pipes that are perfectly compatible in timbre with Harrison's and when the song takes flight with a series of enthusiastic “oo-oo-whoa-oh”s we're quickly thrust from introspective melancholy to communal celebration: “So deliver me from sin/And give me rock'n'roll.” 

Having said that, Radlands, the fourth album by Mystery Jets, is a more reflective set of songs than its forerunners (see: You Had Me At Hello, with its descending melody that could be a nod to Rufus Wainwright) and so the energy of this show compared to previous tours is lowered a couple of notches overall; there's less bopping in the crowd and more motionless, considered contemplation. Clarity of sound is pleasing – Mystery Jets sound as perfect live as they do on CD – and the slide guitar adds a wistful quality. A duet with Laura Marling in its recorded form, Young Love (“If I only knew your name I'd go from door to door”) loses nothing sans Marling in its live incarnation. It's right up there with Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn And John) when it comes to danceable, nostalgic love songs of first crushes, youthful – maybe uni age – longing and infatuation.  

They save one of their best 'til (second) last with Two Doors Down, but we're still crossing everything for the inclusion of After Dark in tonight's setlist. (The track is actually The Count & Sinden Feat Mystery Jets, but so what? It's a live favourite that has been included in previous Jets sets.) We're left wanting, however, as a ballad closes the set and have to resort to repeat plays via iPod. Boo, but oh well, it was an amazing set despite.    

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