Pop Mystery Jets' stage set looks like a junk shop. There are two drum kits. One is "normal"; the other consists of a post-box, a wheel trim, an upside-down dustbin lid, a frying pan and a bird house. At the rear, a portrait of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett hangs inside a life belt. Into this visual catastrophe step several characters bearing guitars and keyboards. One frontman sports a fedora; another a second world war flying jacket. They are pop's Withnail and I.
They begin by tapping out demented beats on the two drum kits, making their music sound as if they have been on a crazed spree around pop's scrap yards, attempting to find rusting old bits of uncool noise they can polish up and use to entice innocent passers-by. One song, The Boy That Ran Away, sounds like baroque goth folk meets a punk rock racket, or the Pogues crossed with Belle and Sebastian and some long-lost prog rock band.
Armed with tunes like Alas Agnes, a King's Cross-set tale of a tragic lover who embarks on a sex change to win the heart of a transvestite, Mystery Jets are certainly different. Gradually, the bassist stands precariously on the speakers and members of the audience step up to "play" plastic bins and cans of lager. Old newspapers are hurled into the audience with demented sambas. "Encore!" shouts someone. "We haven't got a song called Encore," comes the witty reply.
Mystery Jets a are hugely entertaining, if self-consciously wacky, novelty act who will appeal to fans of the chummy frivolity of daft-costumed proggers Circulus or the robed Polyphonic Spree. Like the aforementioned, they will probably burn brightly but briefly, although at the moment the only serious career pitfall is the risk of a passing blue tit making a nest within the bird house.
· At Cluny, Newcastle, tomorrow. Box office: 0191-230 4474. Then touring.