A Certain Trigger Loses Some Pressure To Quicken The Heart With Our Earthly Pleasures…
Written By Ria Wilkinson Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
Gramattics and Maxïmo Park at 02 Academy, Leeds
Maxïmo Park are, at last, unleashed on a long awaited tour.
The third album Quicken The Heart is out of the trap and the pressure has been applied. Both tour and new material are now up for critical review, however the overwhelming feeling from the band is that pressure has been lost as the dye is now cast.
The night before whilst tweebopping at The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart gig at the Cockpit we had managed to accidentally assimilate Paul Smith, his lovely other half and fellow band mate Lukas Wooller temporarily into our nine strong group. It was there that Paul was informed by one of us that he was “a decent front man” and his band were “good, yeah” - high praise indeed…
Having a night off locally prior to their own gig, Paul and Lukas were excited about viewing the POBPAH after giving the album a lot of love. Lukas mentioned that Maximo Park’s tour was going brilliantly and also that it was a relief to get the album out eventually after sitting on the material for what felt like ages. This seems a common angst of publishing albums (unless you throw it out there as soon as, Jack White style). The release is being able to proudly introduce this new material to not only to expectant salivating fans but also to it’s older album siblings with whom it will eventually jostle for love and affection as “newness” fades.
So the stage was set for an effervescence of verve, energy, zest and passion that is signature Maximo Park.
On the night support came from Stricken City – 80s indie influenced 4 piece from London way and also Grammatics – 90s indie rock influenced 4 piece from Leeds.
Grammatics had been brought in at last minute to replace Noisettes – “blues-rock, soul power and grrrl attack trio” from London, which I perceived as a bit of a shame. Noisettes apparently were pulled the tour as they’d not gone down as well as hoped. It was suggested that perhaps they’d have been better off with their own tour after the success of single Don’t Upset The Rhythm pushed their profile unexpectedly higher after they had already signed up to the support act.
Noisettes’ loss is Grammatics’ gain and being local lads (and lass) their set was well received and included an inventive cover of Justice vs. Simian‘s We Are Your Friends.
On to the main event. Through the puffs of dry ice reminiscent of a resting dragon, Maximo Park emerged through the cloud of mystery on stage to slot in behind their various instruments. Birthday boy Tom English on drums, Archis Tiku on bass both provided the pulse of Maximo Park in an understated style, local lad Lukas Wooller (from Huddersfield way) punched and stroked the keys and Duncan Lloyd gave both brawn and indeed guitar melody and of course, Paul Smith resplendent as ever in sharp aubergine suit and omnipresent headwear - this time a fedora, took possession of the mic.
After greeting the crowd with a local dialect pleasing “Leeeeeds”, they launched into The Coast Is Always Changing - their very first single. It succeeded in getting the crowd in the zone and we all sang the lyrics anthemically. Although preaching to the already converted, Paul informed us they have a new album out with a feeling of pride and also a tinge of shyness. However, as first taster of Quicken The Heart, Wraithlike kicked in, all timidity was shed and the zeal for the new material shone through. A siren ramped up the energy as Paul waved about a megaphone using it to selectively to enhance the lyrics. Delighted with the reception of Wraithlike, it was joined by album mate The Penultimate Clinch, and although not a single, a significant amount of the audience knew the lyrics.
Maximo Park have stagecraft honed. They gave honest thanks for the enthusiasm for the new material, but ever conscious of including material old and new to draw in all the crowd, they moved with great agility through Our Velocity and then I Want You To Stay which featured a satisfying solo from Duncan Lloyd.
Tonight, however, was about showcasing the new album and so we returned to it with I Haven’t Seen Her In Ages and Overland, West Of Suez from towards the album end. The latter track was noticeably less known by the crowd but the verve of the band and Paul playing King Of The Castle standing on the speakers to gain height above the crowd relayed the band’s passion to infect the crowd.
The audience was rewarded with Books From Boxes before a quip about new favourite Let’s Get Clinical being an ode to Marvin Gaye‘s Let‘s Get It On. Paul’s face was as expressive as ever and watching him strut, leap, enunciate and emote was akin to a RSC production and was appropriately captivating. Going Missing lead to further waving and thrusting of the mic stand punctuating the lyrics as if a spear used by a chief to rally his tribe into battle.
A couple of new tracks Tanned and Roller Disco Dreams mellowed down the mood and came to life from the new album. An explanation that the latter track was inspired by a girl in an oversized grey jumper further serving to endear the new material to the bosom. It was noted that the slower pace of the new songs seemed to act as a counterpoint to the more frenetic pace of the older tracks. However an upbeat tempo or more megaphone activity did not conceal the dark heart of favourite Limassol and the holiday angst theme continued with recent single The Kids Are Sick Again instigating more audience incantation.
The short, snappy The Night I Lost My Head lament saw the use of the trademark scissor leap from Paul, the light show from behind perfectly marking out his distinctive silhouette. The set signed off with Girls Who Play Guitars featuring spontaneous Freddy Mercury style mic grabs for which unnecessary apologies were issued.
Smith’s performance whilst free spirited was also occasionally self aware. In getting carried in the way in the moment, he may have looked a bit daft and some self depreciation kicked in.
A brief interlude enabled an encore that premièred a really interesting new track not on Quicken The Heart. It was entitled That Beating Heart and was quite downbeat, shot through with essences of How Soon Is Now? and the noise of Depeche Mode to really let Lukas shine on keyboards. It was an unusual start to an encore - something so downbeat and totally unfamiliar and there was a sense of apology about that in the introduction from Paul which also tainted Questing, Not Coasting, the next track, so that even though the audience was familiar with this album track, there wasn’t the sing along other tracks had been treated with earlier in the set.
At this point, Paul mentioned his sojourn to the Cockpit the previous night …“A nice chap said he remembered us playing there and it was one of his favourite ever shows, which was super-nice of him.” much to our personal amusement. Mirth turned to mosh as Apply Some Pressure restored uplift to round off the encore and left the audience out of breath with from impassioned bouncing and singing.
As gigs go, I found it one the best I’ve attended for some time.
This wasn’t my first viewing of Maximo Park - they converted me some time ago with their synergy of fantastic melodies, empathetic, detailed lyrics and captivating live performance and they delivered above and beyond my hopes for the gig.
The other half accompanied me to this gig who had yet to see them, and he’d had his ear bent off enough about how good they were. Despite the hype, he understood why it was I had raved about them and was impressed - quite an achievement! I had heard that on a previous night of this tour had yielded a sub-hour set duration and focus almost entirely on the new album. However our gig was about 75 minutes, covered 19 tracks (two albums worth!) and included a really crowd pleasing ratio of old, new and newer material still, I think is defence enough. I could have enjoyed more focus on the new album as stand out tracks like Calm and In Another World didn’t get a look in this time around.
Maximo Park tick more boxes that most from my demanding list of wants from a band and yet they are still small enough to watch in a venue that doesn’t require binoculars. I’d suggest they’re a bit of a hidden gem of the British music scene and part of me hopes they stay that way.
Written By Ria Wilkinson Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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