As my stomach rumbles disturbingly, excitement surges through me, for I read the upset stomach brewing up a storm inside me to be no more than an anticipatory foreshadowing of We Were Promised Jetpacks’ tempestuous gig to come that very evening.
Across their three albums, We Were Promised Jetpacks have persisted with their thunderous fall-back sound to such an extent that it seems almost too easy a comparison to make. There are moments when I listen to them wondering if they could even be a ‘concept band’ – that they’ve listened to the likes of ‘A Wind’s Poem’ and thought to extend that one concept as their entire sound. Whether or not this is true, to do otherwise than parallel them to a climate of storms would likely elude their central themes.
In the midst of the crowd, the venue feels intensely muggy and close. It could be the layout of The Exchange, or it could be that I like to run away with conceits, but as the band gather on the stage they seem to loom overhead and the tightly-packed audience below bump up against one another with the electric atmosphere readying us for the first strike.
Whipping their way through their set, they are everything we have come to expect from the band: the cacophonous, crashing of drums and onslaught of instrumentally-led outbursts, while vocalist Adam Thompson’s eternally soothing tones tease and lull us. Even as he roars over the cyclone surrounding him, there remains an aspect of tenderness. They provide us with little by way of interaction, preferring to uphold a brooding front. However, on a number of occasions the bassist – he who is surely the essential undercurrent of such a sound – lets an expression of sheer joy break through and dapple across his face.
Songs from the first album are certainly those that have the audience crowd at our most raucous, but then familiarity always is a crowd-pleaser. In fact, the distinction between the material from the three albums is largely imperceptible, yet they have mastered a formula that does wonders forthem, so they are not to be resented for continuing down the same vein.
Apt as ever, they finish on the tumultuous ‘It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning’. We crash and tumble our way through the calm of its build, craving that final perfect storm from which we surface, a-buzz and drenched in vapours of sweat and delight.