Live Music + Gig Reviews

Maxïmo Park @ Rocket, London

20 July 2005

Maxïmo Park remain a curiously cultish entity. The Geordie band have produced one of the freshest British punk albums of the last god knows how many years (A Certain Trigger), their songs are stuffed with razor-sharp riffs, quick wits and a nifty bit of keyboard, and all of them life-affirming, rock ‘n’ roll romps. Yet many people have never heard of them, and they still play unheard of venues, the size of the average school hall. This is a crying shame.

Which is not to say that The Rocket is an unattractive, or particularly obscure venue, being as it is, London Metropolitan University’s theatre, and not more than 500 metres from the more famous Highbury Garage. The trouble with Rocket is the sound quality.

This became abundantly obvious as the support band, The Research, mumbled their way through a half hour set, the less said of which the better. Only the hardcore of fans up at the front were in on the secret. I have never seen so many people sat down at a gig before. Yeah, Yeah was the highlight of a distinctly below-par support set.

This only made Maxïmo Park’s triumphant entrance all the sweeter though. The band, all clad in black, entered to raucous cheer and before you could say “Gang Of Four,” kicked off their electric performance. Opening with Limassol, and then straight into album favourite, the pogo-friendly Postcard Of A Painting. Paul Smith’s reputation as the consummate frontman was immediately apparent: robotic dancing, anecdotes about falling off lamp posts, decent singing. What more could you want?

Well a slightly better PA system would have been nice, as Smith’s vocals were frequently lost beneath Duncan Lloyd’s caustic guitar and the rollicking bass drum of Tom English. Whilst this was acceptable during the well known material, like the marvellous Graffiti, I Want You To Stay, Going Missing, A Certain Trigger and the magnificent riot of a set closer, Apply Some Pressure, during new and lesser known tunes like Kiss You Better and A19, the crowd atmosphere dropped off the scale – we just couldn’t hear the words.

Overall though, this was a live-wire of a performance from one of the best up-and-coming bands around. Hopefully we’ll get to see them with better support and in a better venue in the future. But this will only happen if they finally gain the recognition and popularity they deserve by breaking into the mainstream consciousness. Maybe they should follow The Futureheads‘ lead and do a Kate Bush cover…

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More on Maxïmo Park
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Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins
This Music Made Me: Maxïmo Park
Maxïmo Park – Too Much Information
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