21 is one of my favourite albums ever. It’s a near perfect indie pop album, that 10 years later still excites me. It’s got 2 genuine classic singles in 2 Doors Down and Young Love (featuring Laura Marling) but has a dark undercurrent.
So when the Mystery Jets, perhapss one of our most undervalued bands in Britain, announced they’d be doing a residency, in the Garage, playing all of their albums in full, it wasn’t even up for question that we’d go.
For someone who’s been to so many gigs it was the first gig I can remember going to at the Garage, which I discovered was a great venue. Small (600 capacity), good sound, plenty of space, and a big bar.
It wasn’t just one of my favourite gigs of 2017, but one of the funnest gigs I’ve ever been too. It was a pure celebration. I was 20 (nearly 21) when the album was released, and like many there, it was a chance to relive those times. Similar to The Maccabees, Mystery Jets were a band a lot of people have an affinity with. They feel like they’ve grown up with them, because by and large, their songs are documenting the experiences we all go through at some stage (It was fitting they supported The Maccabees on their farewell gigs). There wasn’t a person in the room not smiling and singing throughout. Every song giving a reaction that is usually only reserved for a bands biggest single. A lot of the songs being aired for the first time in 7 years, sometimes nearly a decade, and Twenty One getting its live debut. The biggest cheers though were reserved for the special guests.
Laura Marling joining the band for Young Love. I’ve seen the band countless times, Young Love is my wife’s favourite song, and nearly every time she’s convinced herself that LM will join. Of course she rarely/never does. The night wouldn’t have been complete without her. It’s a fantastic song anyway, but Laura’s sweet vocals take the song to the next sphere.
The encore was due to be made up of songs from the rest of their albums, which maybe provoked the tiniest of lulls, but before that came a real highlight, and this was a night of many, many highlights. Henry, Blaine’s (the singer) father joined on stage, not for the first time in their careers, to join Blaine in the first ever live rendition of Twenty One, the hidden track of the album. A simple, yet beautiful horrid, in a way only the best songs can be. A plea for a friend to not cause themselves any harm. Watching a father and son, on stage together, playing such a song together is quite the song.
Elsewhere in the encore, Kai Fish who’d left the band 5 years previous came out to join the band on bass duties. While looking incredibly nervous, it was a testament to the love for the band, that a bass player who’d left so long ago was treated like a long lost hero.
Not one person came out the venue without a smile. Music can provoke a lot of reactions, but it’s rare to unite one audience in a way that could have a whole room, arm in arm, beaming at each other, high-fiving. The sort of gig you never forget, and will bury itself into your heart, much like the album did 10 years ago.