It’s been a while since I thought about We Were Promised Jetpacks in any kind of serious way. About five years ago I got a copy of These Four Walls before it was released here in the States, and I fell in love with it. There was something completely different about it, nothing else I was listening to had the subtle complexity that a song like “It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning” contains. I listened to that record pretty much constantly for a long time. I kept listening to it after In The Pit Of The Stomach came out, and eventually I guess it ran its course and I stopped and haven’t really returned to it since. I think that made last night even more special for me, because my love affair with We Were Promised Jetpacks has been rekindled one hundred percent.
I showed up early because I had heard good things about the opening group Honeyblood. I knew literally nothing about them other than they were from Scotland like WWPJ. I got right up front and was blown away by their mix of bubblegum pop and dirty grunge. When Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar came to the stage and I saw it was a female drum and guitar duo, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Any drum and guitar duo immediately has me skeptical, but I kept and open mind and was rewarded for it. They played a longer set than I expected, including this rocker they just released from their forthcoming self-titled album.
With the crowd sufficiently warmed and a buzz of anticipation in the air, the lights went down and WWPJ took the stage just after 9pm. I was posted up in front of guitarist Michael Palmer, and the setlist he had taped in front of him made absolutely no sense to me. They must have code names for the songs or something. I’m glad I ended up where I was, because I learned a thing or two-a lot of the guitar riffs that I attributed to lead singer Adam Thompson are actually the work of Palmer. He dazzled me all night with different tricks and pedal combinations that made all those wonderful songs come to life.
Thompson was no slouch either. It was a bit more of a frenzy at Lincoln Hall than it had been the only other time I caught the band live at Metro. Maybe they feel more comfortable on the smaller stage. For his part Adam mainly stayed in his zone, which was everywhere from his microphone to the end of the stage on his left. He’d make his way behind the keyboards while banging the lacquer off of his guitar and jump and stomp all the way back to his spot.
My favorite moment came when Adam stood back away from the mic and led the crowd in a spellbinding rendition of “Sore Thumb.” It was a great performance of a tune that puts everything they do well on full display. The interplay between aggressive guitar and drums and Thompson’s emotionally raw voice in the distance is really beautiful.
The band played some new songs from the album they just finished recording and I like what I’m hearing so far. It isn’t a monumental shift from the sound you know them for, but it is a little more funky and fun. I’m super excited to hear the rest of the record, and that’s exactly what you want (how terrible would I feel if I had to say “I heard some of the songs on the new album, and they can keep it to themselves.”)
Just last week WWPJ released a new live album taped at the E Rey in Philadelphia. If you’re a fan of the band but have never seen them live, you’ll want to check it out. It doesn’t quite capture the energy that they have live, but I don’t think anything could. They make it an amazing experience for all the fans, and it seems like the band thrives on the energy of the bouncing bodies in the crowd.