The Maccabees @ The Albert Hall
With support from The Big Moon
What a great experience to go and see a band who are consistently raising the bar for British musicians stirring up really strong feelings from people.
More so than any of their peers the Mighty Maccabees have made giant leaps of progress and originality throughout their fairly short existence. The Albert Hall was looking its sparkly best to support them, the sweaty lads and adoring young ladies in the mosh pit bursting with the passion that they inspire.
The London lads began with a song from their most recent album, the title track Marks to Prove It. For someone who hasn’t necessarily been an avid fan of The Maccabees since day dot, it was well chosen to do a song which everyone knew, letting the crowd settle in before unwinding time to their 2007 and 2009 material.
Now there’s one thing that puzzled me a little. The band has five core members (eight on the night including extra percussion, a brass player and keyboards) plus three guitarists. Three. Does the sound really benefit from so much fret? Results on the night were inconclusive. But you have to wonder why that with such heavy and layered instrumentals they rely so much on golden boy Orlando Weeks alone for the vocal sound. Yes his voice is piercingly beautiful but no one could expect him to compete with that wall of guitar in a live situation. For the first few songs the lyrics were frustratingly muffled, though Weeks warmed up a lot and was absolutely gorgeous to the ears for the most part. His wonderfully emotive soprano is what makes the Maccabees The Maccabees. Not guitarists number two and three.
The band occupies a humble space between epic and indifferent; a niche space that’s reserved for bands who musically are “stadium-fillers” but who garner more of a cult following. The Albert Hall is literally that space and The Maccabees sold it out, twice. I’d like to think that this was entirely intentional - after all, stadium gigs are shit.
For me the concert was worth it just to hear Spit It Out live. No offence to all their other great songs, of which there are a few dating right back to Colour It In from 2007, but Spit It Out is a cut above. The song which came out in 2015 was a chest-beating moment for the band after three years’ break, a startling return to form and their best work to date. It’s a song which seems to ball up all their ideas so far into one neat but explosive package and cast it (spit it) far into the future like a musical fireball. It’s a statement of intent.
And their delivery of Spit It Out was spot on too. The thing that makes it an extraordinary song is the story it tells, like a prog rock ballad it builds from unsettled to gut-wrenching to resolute and unflinching. It played out just so at the Albert Hall, every gear shift and speed change adding more flames to the fire.
The Big Moon
The Big Moon are ace. Grungy, sunny Californian indie rock with a stomp on. London's answer to Haim, they have that ultra cool fuzzy guitar sound down to a fine art and rocked The Albert Hall with ease. Enough said!
Words: Scarlett Pares Landells | Photos: Charlotte Wellings