Jetplane Landing

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Jetplane Landing - @ Mr Smiths, Bournemouth 25/06/04 - Live Review

You can now add Mr Smiths to the list of festival warm up venues on the South coast, along with Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms and Poole’s Lighthouse Arts Centre. It’s also a classic live venue, consisting of one small dingy room that one person described at ‘half bar, half stage’. When I arrive, the first band, December Kills, are already playing. They put all their energy into their performance but it still doesn’t stop me from not being overly impressed. This isn’t helped by the fact that they look and sound like an A Level student band, following in the footsteps of Funeral for a Friend and most other emo/screamo bands.

However, at least we could tell when they were playing and not just warming up – whichis more than could be said of Character 11. When they started, most of the audiencehadn’t even realised they had; the band just seemed to be warming up. Thefirst tune was an instrumental and sounded the same – quiet, unobtrusive,acoustic – almost the whole way through. It was a shock when, on the secondsong, they suddenly burst into life with something halfway between rock and screamo.The problem with Character 11 was their singer, who had a horrible, weak voice;it’s a shame because the rest of the band was good.

Then Phema came on, and they reminded me why I always try to see support acts;not only did they have good songs but a personality to

Jetplane Landing - @ Mr Smiths, Bournemouth 25/06/04 - Live Review
Jetplane Landing - @ Mr Smiths, Bournemouth 25/06/04 - Live Review

go with it. Well, the singer, Graham, did anyway. The tunes were sharp and melodic but raw, and with Graham’s strong, clear vocals it was a pleasure to listen to. The fact that he really reminded me of the Cure’s Robert Smith made me keep comparing the two bands, but at least this wasn’t too unjustified. We got humour too, as Phema don’t take themselves too seriously – it’s nice to see a band just laugh off a half-hearted ‘you suck’ with ‘yeah, I know we do. We’ll be out of your way soon’ instead of getting sulky.

However, people had come to see Jetplane Landing and, by the time they came on, the gig had sold out and the room was completely packed. It really didn’t matter that Mr Smiths is so tiny as singer, Andrew Ferris, encouraged people to pile forwards – ‘The lights are so bright, we can only see the front four rows so come closer’ – before launching into ‘Acrimony’.

Despite the band playing with all the passion and vigour they can, many people don’t seem inclined to impressed and just stand there looking bored instead. This wasn’t something that went unnoticed by Ferris who eventually couldn’t take anymore of it and urged the audience to dance, ‘I don’t care if you don’t even like Jetplane Landing, you’ve paid your money fair enough. I just want you to dance!’ It worked though; by the middle of the set everybody had gone crazy.

As for the music, it was another classic Jetplane Landing gig with a rather mixed setlist. New songs, like ‘The New Standard’, nestle closely alongside older ones, such as ‘This is Not Revolution Rock’, from the previous album and, in fact, there were a lot more older ones. Not that anyone was complaining – they were too busy going mad to it.

It’s always bloody good value seeing this band, as Ferris is a great frontman and you always get the feeling they want to be playing, that that’s what they’re in a band for. The whole band put so much energy into their performance. Not for one moment is the crowd excluded as we get hand clapping and moving like there’s no tomorrow along to ‘Conventional Thought’; it seems so fresh and vital whilst we – band and crowd – all sing ‘they made me do it!’ At that point, I wished they could play all night.

We get a surprise, somewhere near the end, when Ferris announced that he has ‘a secret’ that he really should tell, something that he’s started thinking. There’s confusion as he informs us several times that he thinks ‘I’ve lost my mind’ until eventually some guy yells out ‘are you gay?’ – that appears to break the confusion and get a laugh and a response of ‘no, I’m not, but I can meet you afterwards if you want’. It turns out that such is his passion for freedom of choice in life that whilst listening to bands and musicians on the radio and watching them on TV, he ‘wanted to rip their heads off’ for being so false. Not only that, but it was even worse when they didn’t know how long Jetplane Landing can survive for, although, as long as there’s a community of fans, it’s sort of OK.

One of the loudest cheers of the evening came when Ferris thanked the crowd so much for supporting them and making it a sell out gig. He also revealed that, that was one of the reasons he’s in Jetplane Landing in the first place. Then they played the last song of the set, ‘Without Danger There is No Real Courage’, and I lost my mind. IT didn’t quite top the Islington Academy gig and it was a shame that there were quite a lot of sound problems at the start. Mostly, though, it didn’t matter – Jetplane Landing were as exciting and excellent as usual.

Natasha Perry