Images courtesy of Georgina Hurdsfield
On the back of a decidedly lukewarm reception to their latest album, the socially conscious and half-heartedly funky Risk to Exist, Geordie tubthumpers Maxïmo Park rounded off their latest tour in Manchester at a sold out Albert Hall. Whilst lyrically admirable and retaining enough of the band’s original sound and charm, their unfamiliar latest offerings didn’t prove quite enough to raise much more than an appreciative round of applause on the night. Thankfully for the fair weather fans amongst us, 2017 also marks the 10 year anniversary of their debut album, new wave revival classic, A Certain Trigger. A superbly weighted set meant that those hoping for a bit of Friday night nostalgia (I suspect the majority of us) were in for a treat.
Support was provided by the excellent PINS. Playing to a home crowd, the enormous live sound generated by the Manchester band added an energetic dimension to tracks like All Hail and Girls Like Us that has been frustratingly lacking on their studio recordings thus far. The band’s cooly detached, glam punk attitude works well on stage when backed by Lois McDonald’s searing, unfettered guitar work, and their punk pedigree genuinely shone through on stand out track Baby Bhangs. In all it was a promising, confident and dynamic end to the tour for PINS and hopefully a sign of things to come from the band. Be sure to catch them live at Dot to Dot Festival (which Intertainment will be covering later this week) or Festival No. 6 this summer. You won’t be disappointed.
‘Cooly detached’ PINS might have been, but this is not a phrase often attributed to Maxïmo Park frontman Paul Smith. Strutting and swivel-hipped like your weird uncle doing his best Mick Jagger at a wedding, no-one is quite sure why Smith’s stage shtick works. It just does. Although we can’t be certain what’s going on under the trilby, the years appear to have been kind to Smith. Camp and masterful, he’s lost not an ounce of the vigour that split kicked its way into our hearts a decade ago.
Although Smith jokingly threatened to “take things down a notch” about an hour in, mercifully, Maxïmo Park characteristically resisted any inclination to throw in a mid-set acoustic dronefest. Take heed, every other band over a certain age. Instead, they delivered a blistering and breathless 90 minute set with the only low points (which I’m rather cruelly terming them to set up the next sentence) coming, as mentioned, with the unfamiliar, disco-tinged new direction of their latest album. The high points on the other hand were very, very high indeed. Plundering their back catalogue to great effect, tracks from A Certain Trigger (Graffiti, Going Missing, I Want You To Stay) peppered the set alongside under-appreciated gems like 2012’s The National Health.
By the encore – with Smith cutely thanking the crowd “for asking us to come back out and play some more songs” – the Albert Hall had been successfully introduced to some potential growers, (What Did We Do To You To Deserve This? and What Equals Love?) and expertly whipped up until the amazing Apply Some Pressure provided the evening’s pandemonic crescendo. Beer was spilt and for a glorious three minutes we danced like it was 2007. The global banking crisis, Tory austerity and Brexit had never happened. Thank you Maxïmo Park, thank you.
You can view our full album of images from the night courtesy of Georgina Hurdsfield here.