Maximo Park @ The Albert Hall
With support from Stealing Sheep
Unlucky, Stealing Sheep. You’re probably a great band. You certainly had great haircuts, and funky neon leggings. But you didn’t stand a chance with Manchester’s Saturday night crowd who had turned out to see Maximo Park, and to squeeze in as many pints as possible beforehand. Unfortunately for you, the ladies sat next to me on the balcony were more interested in said pints and playing Candy Crush on their phones than in paying attention to your set.
It was only when your set ended that the crowd came to life; chants of ‘MAX-I-MO! MAX-I-MO!’ wrinkled through Albert’s majestic Hall. As the band took to the stage to reel off quickfire hits from their third and fourth albums, the sold-out venue was loud to welcome them affectionately.
After an interval that was too short (I missed the start while I was scaling the four flights of stairs to the land of Albert Hall’s far far away toilets), Maximo Park hit the ground running with one of their best known songs Our Velocity off the album Our Earthly Pleasures. From here on in every song was an A Certain Trigger track, perfect indie pop song after perfect indie pop song, and so commenced the best part of the evening.
I have since heard vocalist and song-writer Paul Smith telling an interviewer that he doesn’t like choosing singles because he writes ALL his songs as such. He can say this in the confidence that he managed to achieve this with A Certain Trigger, an album that is jam-packed with incredible chart-worthy hooks without ever being overbearing.
When it was released ten years ago, A Certain Trigger was the soundtrack to student living. Paul Smith’s relatable lyrics about moving away from home, wild nights out, loving, losing and lying in the dark on your own over-thinking life rang true in the hearts of his twenty-something fans. His songs were adopted as anthems for the millennial youth. It helps that they had some of the best rip-roaring indie singalong choruses that you will ever have the pleasure of getting stuck in your head. In my eyes there’s only one other band that has come close to Maximo Park (in terms of writing indie pop) in the last ten years.
And on this, the last date of their anniversary tour, Maximo Park were eloquent and gracious in the light of their accomplishments. Paul Smith’s ringmaster performance was at maximum; there were snake hips and arms outstretched, outfit changes and really a lot of love flying around, from the stage to the adoring crowd and back again.
With a few concise and personal words Smith announced each song but they didn’t need much introduction. With each charging intro the crowd erupted in eager acknowledgment, singing every word right back at him while he pranced around, the ultimate entertainer. Lit dramatically from below, Smith was the MC at the Maximo Park cabaret, the main attraction at the Albert Hall circus.
Yes, a tenth anniversary tour may seem self-indulgent, but I don’t think anybody could deny Maximo Park some time to bathe in their own greatness. And it wasn’t just for the sake of the band; it was a once-in-a-lifetime treat for fans to see this ageless and exceptional group relive their finest moments – a truly memorable and treasured occasion for all.
Words & photos: Scarlett Pares Landells