In comparison with its west coast neighbour Glasgow, Edinburgh doesn’t welcome nearly as many stellar musical acts to its shores. Similarly, there are far fewer bands coming out of Auld Reekie, as well. Tonight, homegrown We Were Promised Jetpacks take aim at both birds with a single rock and knock them out of the park in deafening style.
Warm-up band Fiskur set the tone nicely with their accessible brand of polished rock, as frontman Ross Clark channels a Bruce Springsteen not afraid to click into a higher gear every now and then. The lyrics are relatable, the riffs are catchy and the overall effect is a pleasing introduction to the two-piece’s work, even if it is compromised somewhat by the sub-par acoustics of the Biscuit Factory.
It’s a problem that will continue into the set of the headliners. As a venue more accustomed to deal with the bouncy breathlessness of dance and electronica, the sound system doesn’t seem to be quite equipped to handle things when they go all the way up to 11. It’s evident on several Jetpacks tracks, including a couple from latest album The More I Sleep the Less I Dream and the crescendo opening to Roll Up Your Sleeves.
Not to say that it infringes on the band’s performance one iota. Adam Thompson’s voice is perhaps even more powerful in the flesh than on the LP, while his mastery of the microphone is impressive in itself. The four-piece are as tight and drilled as is to be expected of a band with fifteen years and four albums under their belts and there’s a good smattering of older hits mixed in with the new album.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the new stuff that takes centre stage, with Impossible, Someone Else’s Problem and Hanging In memorable standouts. But there’s still plenty of room for Thunder and Lightning and Ship With Holes Will Sink from the first album, Sore Thumb (the evening’s highlight) and Human Error from the second and Safety in Numbers from the third. Those less familiar with the band’s oeuvre – including one especially vocal crowd member – may be disappointed with the omission of Quiet Little Voices, but on the whole it’s a robust setlist which doesn’t sag at all.
The dispensation with the senseless convention of an encore could also have gone down in the wrong way, but it’s tackled with such no-nonsense candour that it represents a triumphant breath of fresh air rather than a failure. And a breath of fresh air is probably needed after the stuffy interior and thunderous volume of the venue, but hopefully the Jetpacks will be stomping more acoustically-equipped home turf next time they come back to the Burgh.