Friday, 14 March 2008

instore: mystery jets at pure groove//10/03/08

some photos taken by Ben

The London Paper featured the headline ‘Blew Monday’, something which made me smile as I descended the escalator in Waterloo Station. Twenty minutes later Constance and I emerged and crossing onto Holloway Road grimaced at the grumbling grey clouds above. But we were in high spirits; we were on our way to Pure Groove for our second instore of late. This time it was the turn of Mystery Jets, a re-scheduled event to coincide with the release of Young Love their first single since 2006’s Diamonds in the Dark.

Admittedly we were early, arriving little after 5pm for a 6.30pm start time, but Pure Groove’s very own ‘event’ on (I hate to say it) Facebook, showed that 84 people were attending with around 100 maybes and if you know Pure Groove you know it’s the size of a leisure centre changing room. We hung around in the shop for a bit, read The Stool Pigeon and were turfed out so they could set up. Me, Constance and our friend Doug braved the elements- first came the rain, then the wind, then an ear infection; we had numb fingers despite the gloves, numb toes despite boots and socks and were dancing about on the street corner to get the blood flowing but hey- we were ten people from the front and behind us stood ten, thirty, fifty, maybe sixty people more. The clock limped round to 6.45pm, the school girls in front held up a hand-scrawled note pleading to be let in and suddenly the door opened. Before the room was even half full the band had launched into what I believe was Hideaway, the opener on the upcoming album Twenty One. And to keep things fair they had kindly decided to play two gigs to cater for the queue. After the second song, Half in Love With Elizabeth, my fingers had feeling and my nose was a little less pink. Blaine asked ‘any requests?’ to which came differing replies of Zootime! Dennis! Young Love! He replied ‘you all want old songs… so this is Flakes’ and along came the somewhat heartfelt number that Mystery Jets provided as a free Christmas download.

Since the final release of Diamonds... from their debut album Making Dens the band have been pretty quiet down on Eel Pie Island with the odd DJ-set here and Henry “Dad” Harrison stepping-down, but this has clearly given way to fresher, tighter, interestingly layered dance-y gems. I had never seen Mystery Jets until now, which is something I mildly regret as the gigs from here on will focus on promoting Twenty One over Making Dens (an album which I adored from my very first listen). But Twenty One might just supersede its predecessor, avoiding the dreaded crap-second-album trap, because the four boys have been so focused that all-round growth is evident. This was shown by every aspect of Two Doors Down (originally leaked as ‘Girl Next Door’) from the synth-saturated chorus to the lyrics: ‘…I hear that she liked to dance around the room to a worn-out 12” of Marquee Moon…” which would have had my Dad smiling.

The infectious- almost pop- vocal harmonies that featured in practically every song they played proved just how well this band dovetail together. William’s guitar playing outdid itself with each song, Kapil’s drums kept everything running with incredible accuracy and when performing Flakes Blaine allowed his voice to reach levels not heard on Making Dens.

But of course everyone was waiting for the final song, the main reason for being there on that gloomy Monday afternoon: Young Love. William took to lead vocals with ease and although there was no Laura Marling to add that sugary sprinkling of femininity to the song they kept it sweet and light. The applause, whistles and man-cheers proved just how far the boys (who kept it real with granddad-style sweaters) had come since last playing a Pure Groove instore in 2006, a time when, according to Doug, the attendees barely peaked 20 - nothing compared to the queue which snaked around the building!

Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down

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