Paul Smith and the Quiet
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, November 27th, 2010
Paul Smith at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
"There is nothing like the general chatter of conversation," says Paul Smith, "when you are playing the slow songs in a gig."
Smith, erstwhile front man of Maximo Park and today solo artist, has recorded an album of rare charm and softness in Margins and in his heart on the sleeve way he beams with pride over it. He likes it, he wants you to like it, or at least hear it.
Leeds is a strange City. To sum it up when the band turn things up to try overcome the kind of chatter that plagues a gig like this then some of the audience - affronted that their conversation is drowned out - talk louder. It is that kind of place.
As Smith goes through Margins playing heartfelt versions of While You're In The Bath and Improvement/Denouement - as well as a fine cover of Arthur Russell's A Little Lost - the audience is polarised to the spellbound and those who want him to plough into a few Maximo Park tracks.
He does, in encore, and it is a shame that his own work is not judged on its merits but the man understand stage craft better than most of his peers and perhaps that is why he gets the leeway to do what he does - Ricky Wilson has not realised a quiet, soulful solo album at time of writing - and so the words "Apply some pressure" drift into proceedings to drunken shouts. Of the Maximo Park tracks he could pick recent work Tanned does not sate the desire for a stompalong but reminds all about how different, how distinct last year's Quicken The Heart was.
Of the pop personalities in the last decade Smith remains the most interesting creating a music of images and movie stills but avoiding the perils of the "aural soundscape". Margins is his art house indie film - his Lost in Translation - and it is a shame that that cannot be appreciated for what it is without the demands for explosions and special effects.