This Maximo Park article was written by Jamie Muir, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse. Header image by Laura Harvey.
Nostalgia trips are often viewed with a fair amount of scrutiny, seen as the desperate attempt for an act to cultivate a larger audience and attention for a short period of time. Festival bills are clogged with them, as it’s stretched and stretched over years and years, effectively becoming a walking pantomime act of the band they once were. Yet, when it’s done right, it effortlessly harks back to the joyous tones and memories of a youth once lived, and a period of music that captured a nation’s imaginations.
Maximo Park have long been purveyors of alternative art-rock, credibly experimenting and exploring new ground throughout their career, yet their origins stem from a time and mindset of a country beginning to awaken to the harsh realities of a millennial society. After 10 years, it’s time to look back, and the masses gathered at the Roundhouse show just how important an album ‘A Certain Trigger’ really is, and its continued effect on a vast crowd of lovers and dreamers.
Like an invite for a cheeky birthday party, except shared with 3,000 other Londoners sharing fake Geordie accents, it’s an evening for one band and one band only. Bursting out of the traps with a delectable set of greatest hits, B-sides and obscurities, Maximo are a live force still packing the punch a majority of young acts would kill for, with opener ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ immediately sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy.
What follows is an artistic tour de force of their most acclaimed and creative work from their ten year career, demonstrating the many ambidextrous bows to their crown which contemporaries such as Arctic Monkeys and the Kaiser Chiefs could never match. The new romantic punk rush of ‘Hips And Lips’ is blistering, whilst rarity ‘A19’ is a reality-check on modern living. Trading stories between songs from their spanning career, it’s a delight to see, and the one-two punch of ‘Our Velocity’ and ‘Books From Boxes’ rounds off the first half homage to their evolving career.
Returning to the stage draped in the uniform of choice from 2005’s heyday, this corner of Camden is immediately transported back to those heady days, as ‘A Certain Trigger’ rings into life. Bouncing from pillar to post, frontman Paul Smith is like a frog in a sock, captivating his congregation whilst preaching from his vast book of sermons on modern romance and northern life. Playing the Mercury-nominated LP from start to finish, they’re in a league of their own, untouchable as they morph from indie-disco legend ‘Apply Some Pressure’ into ‘Graffiti’’s rousing anthemic core; this is a journey through a defining album of a defining time in British music.
Smith dominates the room, a frontman born from the days of showmanship and pomp, and in ‘Going Missing’ he drags and pulls the audience through the emotional turmoil and dreams of escapism present. There’s no stopping them, the shattering ‘Limmasol’ sounding rawer than ever and the dense, emotional sprawl of ‘Acrobat’ painfully written across the waves of young and old lovers present, each greeted like a classic with a choir of thousands singing along to every word. As the boys from Newcastle round off the evening with album closer ‘Kiss You Better,’ there’s a palpable sense that all in attendance have witnessed something extremely special; a look back on a classic album from a decade ago, that still sounds as fresh and vital as ever before. The look of gratitude beamed on the faces of band and fan alike speaks volumes.
For many, there’s no other way to describe such an emotional journey back to ‘A Certain Trigger’ in any other way than seismic. Maximo Park created such a vital record ten years ago, that its influence and relevance is still felt to this day; a harrowing yet beautiful description of post millennial life.
As a live force, they remain daring and captivating, with frontman Smith standing as one of the best the UK has to offer, bringing new life to such a diverse and unique catalogue. That catalogue is there to connect and touch people’s lives, and tonight was a demonstration as to why Maximo Park commanded and created that with ‘A Certain Trigger,’ and why its influence and legacy will last much longer than anything else in the Roundhouse tonight.