The four young lads of We Were Promised Jetpacks are adorable. They make you feel a bit mumsy, like you want to rub the chocolate off their chin with a moist hanky while they squirm.
Having successfully turned the band they formed while still at secondary school into a new chapter of resonant Scotch Rock (which mightn’t exactly be a genre proper but describes the roaring indie rock of Frightened Rabbit, the Jetpacks and Twilight Sad very well, thank-you-kindly), they’ve been snapped up by Fat Cat records and flung headlong onto a European tour on the back of the release of cracking debut ‘These Four Walls’, a certain contender in the album of 2009 opinion polls.
Crunching through the thick and powdery snow into the heart of snow-clad, fairy-lit Christiania, I wonder what the young Scotsmen are making of their long tour across a mainland Europe enduring the worst winter of thirty years, the tourbus battling through blizzards and ice, every night a grim foray through the gloom and biting cold. It’s probably a far cry from the average night out for a young man in their home town of Glasgow.
The Jetpacks take the stage at Loppen with a subdued manner about them, the awkwardness of four youngsters who’ve found unprecedented success from their boyhood bedroom hobby. It’s endearing to see a band without the swagger, young enough to be a little shy about their speedy propulsion to the limelight yet old enough to deliver well crafted tunes with conviction.
Having only one album’s worth of material, the set is notably shorter than that of their support act’s, but their debut LP is given a sturdy outing, and the musicianship is super. Front man Adam Thompson sings lustily in a dense Scottish accent, while guitarist Michael Palmer gives a visceral performance. Sticking to a meat and potatoes delivery (“Hello, we’re We Were Promised Jetpacks”) they crack open their set with ‘Keeping Warm’, which is sort of apt given the foot of snow outside.
Banging out their eight song set with gusto they pull out trump card ‘Quiet Little Voices’ for an airing early on in their set, with a faintly perceptible nod to Idlewild for them that remembers ‘em. I’ve always liked it when bands startle you with their best song bang in the middle of their set, it’s like opening your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and then taping them back up to pretend you didn’t peek.
With such a specific style it’s difficult to predict the direction of their next recording, but for now, these early gigs are a cockle warming glimpse of yet another smashing Scottish band just out the starting blocks and you can’t help but wish the very best for ‘em.
Words and photos by Hannah Lanfear