This Maccabees article was written by Gemma Parkes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Skirving.
For a band that has a back catalogue of material spanning over twelve years, including a number one album, an Ivor Novella award and a Mercury Prize nomination, it’s hard to fathom why TheMaccabees are only just headlining shows at Brixton o2 Academy. They’re no strangers to the stage which they’ve graced a handful of times already – NME Awards tour 2007, NME Awards show 2010 and to support Kasabian on their five-date stint back in 2014.
The South London five piece return to their hometown to play the second night of three sold out shows. The city where it all began back in 2004, a time when many up-and-coming London indie artists were beginning to filter into the mainstream with the influence of the MySpace generation. Fast forward twelve years and not many of those bands have enjoyed the same longevity that TheMaccabees have.
With Friday being David Bowie tribute night in his hometown of Brixton, his track ‘Changes’ is blasted through the speakers and the whole crowd sang together in sombre unison – a touching, humbling moment before the band appeared. Orlando, Hugo, Felix, Rupert and Sam (not to be confused with the male cast of Made in Chelsea) walked on stage with an air of quiet confidence, guitars held high.
Dark blue funnels of light flitted between each band member, standing in front of a backdrop of the artwork for their latest album, ‘Marks to Prove It’. The crowd waited in intense anticipation as atmospheric, eerie whispers of guitar and a soft rattling snare burst into the opening riff of the title track – a truly electric opener. The mid-song instrumental’s descending keyboard sequence chimed and pinged off every wall in a much more satisfying way than when listened to at home.
The band politely thanked the crowd for coming before taking it down a notch with 2012’s ‘Feel to Follow’, from album ‘Given to the Wild’. The performance kicked off with frontman Orlando Weeks’ gentle and enthralling vocal that was backed by a duo of drummers. As the song was brought to its climatic outro with its intricate, intertwining melodies, Orlando egged on the cheering crowd – proving that he’s polished up on his skills as a showman.
“This one’s for old friends”, exclaimed guitarist Felix White before playing a string of their earlier triumphs, starting with ‘Precious Time’ from their debut album. The lighting changed into what seemed like shimmering starlight as they transitioned into ‘Wall of Arms,’ with Orlando encouraging the whole crowd to join him in raising their arms in what was a magical moment.
This whole section was a real treat for The Maccabees’ hardcore fans, and the earlier tracks still contain that raw edge that set them apart from other bands – none more so that their debut single, ‘X-Ray’. “I want to make sure that everyone sings their hearts out”, shouted Orlando as the first note struck, with the whole crowd leaping and jumping ecstatically. The erratic guitar riff ricocheted around the room with continuous chants of ‘X-Ray, X-Ray’ proving that the track is still as anthemic as ever, with Orlando praising the crowd: ‘That sounded beautiful.”
Returning to more recent material, ‘Something Like Happiness’ metamorphosed perfectly from their previous work, a true conveyance of their progressively bigger sound. The entire audience gave a resounding rendition of the song as the quintet left the stage for their encore, continuing at full volume until the band returned to rapturous applause.
Old romancer, ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ received the most adoration and had everyone swaying from side to side and ‘River Song’ began to an element of surprise, so unexpected and different from their earlier material. Experimenting with a brass section, it almost sounds like it could be an 80’s love ballad. The audience continued to rock from side-to-side and the mood turned even more intimate.
Set closer was ‘Pelican’, with its punchy and vigorous guitar chords rising into a delight of dazzling indie greatness – the crowd weren’t left disappointed and left on a high.
The new material from ‘Marks to Prove It’ added an extra dimension and magnitude to their already accomplished sound, proving once again that The Maccabees are a live act perfect for the biggest venues, and are not to be missed in 2016.
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