It’s always a bit awkward going to a gig on a friend’s recommendation: you’re not a fan of the band and you’re putting your faith into a friend’s taste of music. Your reaction could cause some social discomfort.
Last week I was offered to go and see ‘We Were Promised Jetpacks’ (WWPJ), a band my friend had picked up from her Scottish gigging days. She sent me a few YouTube videos and they seemed okay; they had guitars, I like guitars, so yeah, why not, I had nothing else on.
So we arrived at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester and we entered a warm, relaxed and well-lit room. There was a mixed crowd of students and young professionals, all with pint in hand. So far so good, they’re obviously a popular band. We bought a drink, checked out the future gigs and waited for the show.
The first support band came on, ‘New Vinyl’. They held a good beat and good bass line with some synth and piano effects over the top, with a couple of their songs actually being quite catchy. They were a six piece band on the night, with an additional female vocalist, but she didn’t seem to do much, which was a shame as she had quite a nice voice. The next support band, ‘The Slow Readers Club’, were quite quirky with some hard hitting tunes. they had a small following in the audience and people seemed to be getting into their stuff; but I must be honest, they didn’t leave a lasting impression on me, I can barely remember their set.
So, supports out of the way, we waited for the main band. Second pint now.
A slow broken applause began and the band walk on stage. They ignored the audience and went straight to their instruments – two telecasters, jazz bass, drums. They started with a gentle, picking riff that slowly built up with the addition of gutsy drums, bass and guitar. The instrumental built and built up… I dared to think ‘this is going on too long’, but then the drums just crashed my scepticism; they were there to bring some balls to the evening and show they were worth the ticket money.
They started the set and quickly covered some of their bigger songs, such as ‘Quiet Little Voices’. I was most impressed by how much heavier their live performance was to their recordings; it really brought out the meaning of their songs and helped me understand what the band were about. The lead singer, Adam, was a bag of surprises. Between songs he’d talk and act gentle and shy, but when the songs were in full swing his voice was huge and he would rock out with the guitarist, Michael and the bassist, Sean. The drummer is the key to the band: he was immense, huge fills and big crashes, driving the music forward. As well their heavier side, they brought the tempo down at times to communicate really soft, reflective songs with Gaelic twists. Unfortunately this led an opportunity to their most active fans yelling “Nicki Minaj is a C***.” True, but it wasn’t the time to discuss.
Overall, I left the gig with more love for my friend, as she had delivered on her promise of good music taste, and a greater appreciation for WWPJ. I think if you like this band, or think they’re okay, you really need to see them live. You will understand them in a whole new way: they like to rock and they like to play and communicate their music with an audience.
Some songs to highlight: ‘Medicine’, ‘Ships With Holes Will Sink’ and ‘Roll up Your Sleeves’.
(edited by Bianca Barnett)