Photos: Steve Barnes
“Ooh, girls in the band”, says someone in front of me as Maximo Park take to the stage. And so it is, with bass and keys/backing vocal slots both taken with female musicians, although over the next hour or so, if there was any winning over to be done, it’s done with energy, aplomb and, frankly, brilliance.
Paul Smith guides us through the evening with his usual modest charm, full of anecdotes and thoughts behind the songs, which cover the whole of their eight album, 16 year cannon, but particularly from their recent release Nature Always Wins. From the first notes of opener and recent single All of Me, the band are clearly on top of their game – new additions or not, as they blast through the set with bite and energy, and the packed crowd give as good as they get, jumping around throughout.
The hits – typically Our Velocity and Books from Boxes, are received with earnest delight, but this is a knowledgable audience who jump (literally in most cases) into the lesser lights – but no less welcome run outs, as the band remind everyone that they’ve written a slew of great tunes from albums such as National Health, which leads (I reckon) to mass reappraisal on the way to work the next day.
On stage, behatted (as ever) Smith is athletic and engaging, and his vocal is remarkably consistent throughout the evening, despite his moves, jumps and spins as he delivers them, referring to his note book on occasion during the evening to get them out there unspoiled. Elsewhere the band is solid and tight, with aforementioned keys/backing vocalist Jemma Freese (‘from Sheffield’ says Paul which brings another cheer) brilliant throughout and adding another dimension to the band.
As we walk out, still reeling from the angular aggression of the ever brilliant Apply Some Pressure, the talk is more of whats to come rather than whats been, whatever the personnel. And thats surely the mark of a good night