I suddenly felt old. It happened when I recognised some faces in the crowd because they frequent the same Stonehaven to Aberdeen bus route that I do. They are at least eight years younger than I am, but despite this they make up a similar crowd or ‘clique’ to the one I was part of at school. This made me think of that saying; the more things change the more they stay the same. This comforts me despite the sudden sensation of feeling my age. It was when this thought had firmly entrenched itself in my mind that the first act took to the stage.
Gav Prentice, usually of electro-pop-folk band Over the Wall, played a short solo set that was essentially a stripped back yet energetic way to kick off the proceedings. It put me in mind of other Scottish troubadours, in particular Withered Hand who makes a handy point of comparison. The majority of the set is just Gav, his voice, his guitar and his anecdotes. When one gig-goer yells that he looks like Justin Bieber with a beard he compares the baby-faced singer to a guy from his old school who used to get his dick out a lot. With that he launches into the last few songs where he’s accompanied by a pre-programmed keyboard and the crowd seem to get into things just that wee bit more. The drunk guy next to me who wouldn’t stop talking through the set even managed to shut up for a few minutes. Gav then made his farewell and the crew set up the stage for the next support band.
I’ve seen The Little Kicks a few times in various venues around Aberdeen, and while I’ve never gone out of my way to see them I’ve always enjoyed them live. They played a typically tight, energetic and highly dance-able set to the enjoyment of the crowd. There’s some interesting dancing that evolves into something of a dance-off during one of the songs to the amusement of the band. The Little Kicks know what they’re doing; they’ve been doing it for a while now, and you get the sense that big things are just around the corner for them. Based on their live show, it seems inevitable.
Before the headliners begin the drunk guy who was next to me seems to have been thrown out only to be replaced by a couple of women who are extremely drunk and very into waving their arms around. I realise that if We Were Promised Jetpacks aren’t extremely good then these people could potentially ruin the night for me. Fortunately, they are extremely good and the entire crowd seems to agree. They start with Short Bursts from their first album and it sets the tone for the night. Songs from the first album, These Four Walls, get raucous, full-throated sing-a-longs and songs from the second album, In the Pit of the Stomach, get a lot of head-banging, arms-in-the-air appreciation. They play the best songs from the new album including Boy in the Back Seat, Sore Thumb, and lead single Medicine which is the only point that the sound is anything other than stellar. Adam’s voice is so powerful that he can step away from the mic and still be heard over the wall of sound. When they launch into album-closer Pear Tree the hairs on my arms stand to attention. I wondered how they could possibly recreate the thumping, climactic build-up live and I was not disappointed. These are guys who love playing rock music with each other and it really comes across live. Jetpacks are tight as bits without sounding too polished and it’s never dull. They finish with first-album favourite It’s Thunder and It’s Lightening and every single set of vocal chords in the venue sings itself raw until the final, triumphant cry of ‘I’m leaving!’ No encore, just a ‘thank you’ and a ‘goodnight’.