Maximo Park remain a curiously cultish entity. The Geordie band haveproduced one of the freshest British punk albums of the last god knowshowmany years (A Certain Trigger), their songs are stuffed withrazor-sharpriffs, quick wits and a nifty bit of keyboard, and all of themlife-affirming, rock ‘n’ roll romps. Yet many people have neverheardof them, and they still play unheard of venues, the size of the averageschool hall. This is a crying shame.
Which is not to say that The Rocket is an unattractive, orparticularlyobscure venue, being as it is, London Metropolitan University’stheatre, andnot more than 500 metres from the more famous Highbury Garage. Thetroublewith Rocket is the sound quality.
This became abundantly obviousas thesupport band, The Research, mumbled their way through a half hour set,theless said of which the better. Only the hardcore of fans up at thefrontwere in on the secret. I have never seen so many people sat down at agigbefore. Yeah, Yeah was the highlight of a distinctly below-par supportset.
This only made Maximo Park’s triumphant entrance all the sweeterthough.The band, all clad in black, entered to raucous cheer and before youcouldsay “Gang Of Four,” kicked off their electric performance.Openingwith Limassol, and then straight into album favourite, thepogo-friendly,Postcard Of A Painting. Paul Smith’s reputation as the consummatefrontman wasimmediately apparent: robotic dancing, anecdotes about falling offlamp posts, decent singing. What more could you want?
Well a slightly better PA system would have been nice, as Smith’svocalswere frequently lost beneath Duncan Lloyd’s caustic guitar and therollicking bass drum of Tom English. Whilst this was acceptable duringthewell known material, like the marvellous Graffiti, I Want You To Stay,GoingMissing, A Certain Trigger and the magnificent riot of a set closer,ApplySome Pressure, during new and lesser known tunes like Kiss YouBetterand A19, the crowd atmosphere dropped off the scale – we just couldn’t hearthewords.
Overall though, this was a live-wire of a performance from one ofthebest up-and-coming bands around. Hopefully we’ll get to see them withbettersupport and in a better venue in the future. But this will only happenifthey finally gain the recognition and popularity they deserve bybreakinginto the mainstream consciousness. Maybe they should follow TheFutureheads‘lead and do a Kate Bush cover…