Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maximo Park

On the face of it, opening one of your biggest shows to date with an entirely new song is either a bad move or an act of supreme arrogance. Maximo Park, though, are old hands at this sort of thing. They may only have put out one album, but this year alone they have headlined the NME Awards Tour and closed out the Sunday night of the Reading Festival. Moreover, in Paul Smith they have one of the most entertaining and engaging frontmen around. Strolling onto the stage well behind his four bandmates, dressed in white jeans and jacket, a trilby covering his trademark combover hair, he rips into 'Girls Who Play Guitars' with such force that the audience are compelled to dance, even if they don't know what they are dancing to.

Normal service is resumed with 'Now I'm All Over The Shop' and by the time we reach third number 'Grafitti' even hamster-cheeked bassist Archis has abandoned his usual backstage perch and is down at the front of the stage throwing the sort of shapes not seen since the days of Derek Smalls.

An unusual feature of this show was that Smith, unlike most singers, actually talked to the audience. Only 'Limassol' went without an introduction, and that because he ran offstage to have his in ear monitors replaced. This meant that even new songs such as 'Nosebleed', 'By the Monument' and 'A Very Nice Time' (the latter evidently renamed from it's Reading appearance as 'In a Fortnight') had meaning for the crowd and they responded accordingly.

If there is once criticism of Maximo Park, it is that their shows are a bit one paced. With no 'Acrobat' in the set, there is no break in the momentum to allow either the band or the audience a breather and by the encore both are visibly flagging (Lukas Wooler looks like he is actually in pain).

Goth Girl and I disagreed on whether this was a better show then the Reading one, but it doesn't really matter because with Smith at the helm there was never any danger of not having a good time.


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