Live review: We Were Promised Jet Packs @ the Hi-Dive

In the two years between when We Were Promised Jetpacks released their first and second records, the band graduated. They evolved from an indie, post-punk-influenced four-piece into a full-fledged, cathartic, sweeping post-rock force.

Those same two years have passed since Jetpack visited Denver and the Hi-Dive, the venue they tore apart last night. Behind Adam Thompson, the Glaswegian band (all of whom, by the way, look no older than they did the last time they were here) pumped out over an hour’s worth of Joy Division-meets-Mogwai music that thoroughly enveloped the sold out crowd.


They started out with “Hard to Remember” from 2011’s “In the Pit of the Stomach,” and barely acknowledged the audience for the rest of the set — save a few glances from Thompson.

The evolution of Jetpacks’ style came through in the glaring difference between songs from earlier releases — “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning,” “Ships With Holes Will Sink” and “Quiet Little Voices” — and their new material. Where the early work certainly held its own, it’s kick was limited in comparison to songs like “Medicine,” “Circles and Squares” and “Act On Impulse.” The latter tunes reflected a maturity akin to U2’s “October,” the record the supergroup released just before Bono became a megastar with “War.” Jetpacks, though, showed a strong sonic allegiance to post-punk heavies like Joy Division, and even a nod towards New Order, in their well-balanced, mature style.

It’s this mix, along with Thompson’s charismatic, so-Scottish, red-cheeked charisma — and a large mass of pretty rabid fans — that could actually push this band into the arena-rock crowd, if they’re not careful.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at, and his giglist at Gigbot.

Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.