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- Mystery Jets »
When bands fade and drift from attention, as they inevitably sometimes do, the Scala tends to be the site of their London revival, usually after a preparatory regional tour. The reason for this is that the higher two of its three floors can be roped off, packing the grounded pit and its turrets full of heave at least, if interest and ticket sales wane to the point where the amount of fresh air in the room becomes an embarrassment. No such trouble for Mystery Jets tonight, however – all three floors, as well as the sidestage and various gangways, are overflowing with the leering, cheering mass who’ve come to greet the south west London troupe like a friend who's lifting off the bandages for the first time after reconstructive surgery.
Not that they were ever in desperate need of it – songs like ‘The Boy Who Ran Away’ and ‘Diamonds in the Dark’ retain their lustre when played live tonight, an impressive feat given that they’re shuffled between new songs that shine and sparkle with a sheer new pop exuberance. At times tracks like ‘Two Doors Down’, (which starts three times and ends just the once), come too close to pastiche – they transcend ‘rip-off’ status to sit awkwardly alongside the ‘80s influence which at times, in the wearing of hair and surrendering of sax solos to cheese, is paid too much respect. Many of recent album Twenty One’s offspring are better than that and deserving of merit all their own, showing up the occasional ‘80s gimmick as unnecessary and ill-judged.
It’s testament to their quality that many of Blaine Harrison’s newer words are bounced back at him by the majority of the crowd. Striding into view with ‘Hideaway’, lurching bass is chased across a smoke-filled screen by howling sirens that wheel from samplers and drum machines helping to fill out the band’s sound in the absence of album producer Erol Alkan. It’s a credit to Alkan more than a slight on Mystery Jets that the machines don’t quite live up to the task – perhaps it’s the case that the 20 or so listens the record has notched up in my media player have drawn me too close, but you notice when the odd synth dazzle or guitar twitch, (from the verses of ‘Half in Love With Elizabeth’ and ‘Two Doors Down_’ respectively), are missing.
Both songs are still mightily solid tonight, as is set highlight ‘Young Love’, and though there’s a chance for the soppy to get wet-eyed when Henry Harrison is carted out to join his charges on ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ – his reception, by the by, was rapturous – you can’t help but feel Mystery Jets may have become a studio band with _Twenty One. These are songs for clubland glitter-balls rather than dank dives, after all; east London warehouses rather than the bars of west London football grounds.
But then, they climax with ‘Zootime’ and the Scala is a riot of sweaty, breathless goodwill. Mystery Jets have done enough to earn wider enjoyment and appreciation this summer, but it’ll be very, very interesting to see where they go next.
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