Maximo Park @ The Junction

James Hope 13 October 2007

On Sunday the Corn Exchange saw the arrival of Maximo Park, on tour with their second album. The cold night coaxed the excited masses into the venue early which resulted in a packed out atrium before the supports bands started. Good Shoes brought a very entertaining set, keeping even those at the back of the floor moving. Rhys Jones’ vocals can be seen as a little grating, but the job was to entertain and get the crowd fired up and Good Shoes did this excellently.

A short while later we were treated to what we had come to see. The lights dimmed and Lloyd, Tiku, Wooller and English filed onto the stage to take up their instruments. Then came Paul Smith, bounding onto the stage with the energy of a five year-old after a large dose of food colouring. With his various contorted faces and gesticulations, Smith brings a stage persona that adds greatly to the sense of performance.

The set consisted of a large cross-section of their past works, weighted only slightly to the new album. I felt a little left out being the only one at the front not roaring out every lyric to every song but this certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Smith engaged in very little banter with the crowd, however his excellent voice and on stage vigour proved to be easily enough for this audience.

One of the great things I noticed in this gig was how seamlessly Maximo Park managed to advance the set. It was as if the songs had always been designed to be in that order. The new tracks seemed most popular with the crowd, showing the success of their latest album, but no one was disappointed to hear the return of old favourites like Apply Some Pressure and Graffiti. Smith had the crowd in the palm of his hand and everything he did was met with cheers and screams. When presented with an opportunity girls and boys alike would try to cop a feel of the charismatic front-man only to be thwarted by the security staff.

The main set was ended with the fast paced single Our Velocity which enthused the crowd into a riot. Of course the song had to be spoiled by a multitude of thoughtless people who think that what a gig needs is crowd surfers. Us at the front spent half the song with heads bowed as a torrent of people flowed overhead. At least I managed to avoid being kicked in the temple by a Converse trainer recently removed from a squelchy field. This time.

After a fair amount of chanting we were greeted with a stage bathed in green as the band started the rhythmic introduction to the poetic Acrobat. After two more songs the concert came to a close and the audience was still reluctant to leave. You can’t blame them, this has to be one of the best concerts I have seen.

James Hope