We Were Promised Jetpacks soar at the Varsity

Categories: Concert Review
Thumbnail image for wewerepromisedjetpacks.jpg
Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas
Glasgow's We Were Promised Jetpacks delivered a taut, combustible set at the Varsity Theater on Tuesday night, mixing in plenty of good-natured interaction with the crowd amidst their highly charged Scottish rock 'n roll. The young quartet strode on stage to the computerized countdown strains of "A Half Built House," and proceeded to immediately build the tension in the room by layering the guitar laden intro to "Keeping Warm" over the top of the repetitive call of random, code-like digits. "Keeping Warm" eventually coalesced nicely, and ignited the no-frills, 55-minute show potently.

The band tore through most of their strong debut These Four Walls during the set, highlighted by the propulsive bounce of "Moving Clocks Run Slow," as well as the two singles culled from Walls; the dynamic "Roll Up Your Sleeves" (featuring a subject struggling to make it through winter, which clearly resonated with the Minnesota audience), and "Quiet Little Voices," which frontman Adam Thompson cheekily introduced by saying "We always have to play this shitty little song. It's the only reason anyone cares," before the band emphatically launched into a stellar version of the fiery track.The band also played one number from their brand new EP The Last Place You'll Look, a splendid version of "A Far Cry."

Thompson has such a clear, resonant voice, and he often would sing spiritedly into the air without the aid of the microphone, with his vocals continuing to ring true throughout the theater. It elevated their straightforward songs considerably, as well as giving them life and passion. There are clear anthems within WWPJ's catalog, but most of their numbers are slow-building tracks filled with short bursts of energy. Good thing too, since when an audience member called out for 10 more songs, Thompson joked, "No way. I"m a big guy, I'm lucky I've made it this far through the tour."

And with that the band tore through their last two songs of the night, prefaced by Thompson explaining that there wouldn't be any encore "because going backstage to hide for two minutes was stupid." The potent "Ships With Holes Will Sink" proved to be my favorite song of the night, and explosive set closer "Short Bursts" allowed the band to lose themselves a bit amidst the feedback and Thompson's unamplified wails. And, as promised, there wasn't any encore, and quite frankly none was needed. The bands compact, volatile set proved that not only is These Four Walls one of the better UK rock records released recently, but also that we will clearly be hearing more from We Were Promised Jetpacks as they continue to grow into their sound. 
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