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- Mystery Jets »
Living in London, you can't help but take for granted the conveyer belt of bands that arrive, play and fuck off. It's like a permanent state of Boxing Day, when a couple of your favourite relatives arrive amid a slurry of peripatetic cousins and unfamiliar family 'friends'. We are slags, the lot of us.
So to catch a glimpse of a living, breathing scene, that is specific to one area, is like peering into the window of the rich house on Christmas day - both heartwarming and envy-inducing.
This is about the sensation I get from Mystery Jets' secret homecoming gig at Filthy's in Twickenham. It is one of the series of concerts sponsored by Gaymers cider which takes bands back to their manor for a night.
Not only was there a sense of triumph in Mystery Jets' return, but there was an atmosphere akin to a – gulp - community (another concept sadly alien to much of central London).
It helps that the boozer is tiny, so no-one is more than five metres from Kai's flailing bass or drummer Kapil's probably-quite-sweaty chipmunk suit. To my right is Dad - Henry Harrison, still a functioning member of the band except for the gig bit - he's singing along with partner nestled into his gangly frame. A little further along are some of the Eel Pie clan who have probably known the band personally for yonks. To my left is an old friend of the band whose wild gesturing gets him a personal dedication for ‘Two Doors Down’. In front of me are some Twickenham-ites chanting "TW1! TW1!". Behind lead singer Blaine Harrison hangs a Larrikin Love drum skin, a reminder of the aforementioned south west London 'scene' which seems to be characterised by camaraderie and good will. God, it's enough to have us city types vomming into our bowlers.
And they play a great gig. Mainly drawing from Twenty One, they give us ‘Hideaway’, ‘Young Love’, ‘Flakes’, new single ‘Two Doors Down’ (the fizzy pop of which doesn't quite hit the heights of its peers), ‘You Can't Fool Me Dennis’ and a raucous ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ among others.
Blaine Harrison is a compelling front man considering his relative immobility due to spina bifida; he's all cracked voice and bird's nest hair, uncooperative braces and a mouth like a salivating dog, while guitarist William Rees is an underrated, idiosyncratic player (i.e. no plectrum à la Knopfler, battered-looking Gibson).
Strictly speaking, the band weren't exactly all kicking about the Twickenham streets together in their youth (Blaine grew up in France and Oxfordshire for starters), but nonetheless they have been based in Twickenham/Eel Pie Island since about 2001 and are parts of its fabric, starting with strong family links and ending with the all-night gig parties on the island that became the stuff of legend.
This series of gigs also took The Futureheads back to Sunderland and The Young Knives to Ashby de la Zouch, both of which I'm sure were a shitstorm of fun and sweat. But with the former still not match fit after a metaphorical career-threatening injury, and the latter yet to get their due recognition, their gigs might not have inspired the same unusual atmosphere as this because this is a night characterised by warmth and pride - and how often do you hear those words describe a London gig?
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