Live Music + Gig Reviews

Mystery Jets @ ICA, London

9 September 2005

Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets are a quintet who hail from the small community of Eel Pie Island on the River Thames, and are certainly not your most conventional rock group.

Made up of the father and son combo of Henry and Blaine Harrison and three other young looking chaps, they play a wide variety of instruments – guitars, bass, keyboards, tambourines, drums, tin pans or whatever else they may find lying around – to make a rather compelling, if unorthodox noise.

Yet another word of mouth, Internet aided phenomenon (something which has seen Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys rise to prominence on the back of only a limited edition EP), they’ve already amassed something of a cult following, something that was clearly in evidence this evening at the ICA. Swarms of fans were scattered around the stairs outside the venue, mingling with band members, and T-shirts bearing the group’s logo were out in full force.

The whole event felt like something of a watershed – a packed house, a crisply delivered 40-minute set and an audience who somehow knew every word and cheered the band on as if it was their last ever show suggested that this is the last time that they’ll play a venue of such intimacy that is the ICA theatre – which tonight was made all the more homely with a backdrop of Turkish rugs, making the room feel like a bohemian style lounge.

Opening with largely instrumental number Zoo Time, this set the high standard for the rest of the night – with heavy guitar riffing, tribal percussion and sparse lyrics consisting chiefly of the song title, this sounded very much like a Mystery Jets rallying cry, a mobilising anthem for their fans. And judging by the audience’s jubilant reaction to it, this may well be the case as the band gradually emerge from the underground on to the mainstream in much the same way The Libertines did a few years ago.

Lead singer Blaine Harrison sat perched on his seat in the centre of the stage as he sang the words, played the keyboard and bashed the various objects in front of him, with those around him moving around the stage liberally, often unable to wipe the smiles off their faces. Blaine’s silver haired, guitar wielding father was a resolute figure throughout, as were the duo to the left of him, bassist Kai Fish and guitarist Will Rees.

All three added backing vocals, making it feel as if we were witnessing some sort of sermon, albeit one filled with unconventional song structures (you won’t find many obvious verse-bridge-choruses here) and instantly memorable and often hymn like harmonies, not least on singles On My Feet and You Can’t Fool Me Dennis – the latter saw a breezy, playful piano introduction, crisp guitars and quirky lyrics all combining to create what we commonly term as a perfect pop song.

The Boy Who Ran Away, a new song that they’d only written very recently, they informed us, sounded remarkably assured given its infancy. Filled with more collective harmonising, it’s a juggernaut of a track that suggests their forthcoming debut album will be one littered with melodic treats. For the time being though, those on the boat early and in attendance tonight were treated to a wonderful display of music that is just the beginning of something quite unique and rather special.

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