As Paul Smith thrusts and struts his way through the set, it seems not even eye surgery (and a recommended cancellation of the tour which saw the postponing of just two shows) can hold him back. Whilst it’s his charisma which makes Maximo Park an engaging and energetic band to watch, it’s actually the culmination of the infectious lyrics combined with short, sharp punchy melodies which carry the night and in just 90 minutes they work their way through more than 20 tracks.
With new album Too Much Information released earlier this year, it’s no surprise that tracks like Give, Get, Take and Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry make their way into the set, but it seems even with 5 album releases under their belt the bands ability to make new and inventive numbers (which still fit neatly into their arrangements and style) has not been lost. Yet alongside the suave persona, there’s a humble nature to them and a willingness to engage with the audience whilst not being diverted from their set. “We can’t take requests, we’re a well oiled production line”, Paul tells the crowd at one point.
Requests are unnecessary anyway as they belt out most of their most loved tracks to a buoyant crowd. The more politically natured The National Health and The Kids Are Sick Again rub up against the more romantic Graffiti and the anthemic Girls Who Play Guitars, culminating in a show that has the makings of a greatest hits tour. Nevertheless, tonight also highlights that the band are unlikely to slow down any time soon, Brain Cells offering a more electronic vibe over softer vocals and Where We’re Going combining melodic guitars over a wall of sound. The song is transformed from the softer album track to something which works the crowd to a frenzy.
Meanwhile Her Name Was Audre feels like a punk rock track, mixed up Maximo Park Style. It’s this ode to radical feminist Audre Lorde which seems to highlight their ability to combine an effortless rocky sound with songs that have meaning and thought. Whilst tonight is carried by the music, those who were able to pull back to take note of the lyrical content will have left, like me, in awe of Maximo Park’s ability to combine gutsy guitars with lyrical depth.
Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.