And so this was it, the last show for Screaming Maldini. The room was packed with people that came together to give them the send off they deserved with a mix of absolute enthusiasm and tears. Coming onto the stage one by one, each member was greeted with a roar of applause and cheering, Maldini opened with ‘Islands’, the first song from their final album that launched on the day and it served as a brilliant opening. The crescendos of the chorus was an instant reminder of why Maldini had become so loved.
Before I go into that though, first I need to mention the support (and I say support loosely, this was more of a triple headline show) from Bang Bang Romeo whose combinations of blues, rock and other genre influences set the scene brilliantly for the night and Laurel Canyons whose music sounds just like you’d imagine from the band name only so much more involving. I would say more but I’m already over the 1000 word mark and if you’re reading this you’ll know how awesome these two bands are.
Fronted by the ever creative and enthusiastic Nick and the always stunning and talented Gina, they both gave their vocal performances 200% and the crowd responded by singing along with them. The way that they perform is something I’ve still yet so see matched from other groups. The way Gina knows the beats of every song and conducts accordingly is something that really catches your attention and the riffs that Nick comes out with shows his musical talent for song writing. But without the rest of the band they’d just be singers. It’s the complex and satisfying rhythms from Tim on the drums that drive the songs in different time signatures and keep everything together. It’s the way the bass from Annie fits the melodies and supports it, strong enough to be prominent and give the song it’s musical deeper meaning without being overpowering. The way that the chord progressions are played out on the keys by Jonny with some of the most beautiful selections of notation make certain songs stand out even more. And of course what has always made Maldini stand out even more is Ben on the trumpet that gives the peaks of the songs that something extra making sure you don’t forget what you hear. As a band they complimented each other perfectly, supporting one another and without just one of them then we wouldn’t have the songs we’ve loved so much.
As you can easily imagine, this was a brilliant show. The performances from each member consisted of nothing less than their absolute all. But the way that they structured the show is what really caught my attention. The musical interludes they put together was a welcome reminder of their talent and the closest we’d get to hear potential songs that were so far unwritten. There was always a great sense of humour with the band at their live shows that I’ve always appreciated. In particular when feedback interrupted the start of a quiet moment, the reaction from Gina, the band and the crowd showed that even though you give it your all, never forget to appreciate the little moments that only a live show can give you. When it got to ‘Everything Unsaid’ that was about it for me. A song so beautifully constructed and performed with such emotion that will now always remind me of that moment every time I hear it from this point on. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one. Yes there were tears.
With a set list made of everything we would have wanted to hear, their chosen selection highlighted the moments from Maldini that we’ve identified most with. Choosing the Exposed version of ‘Snowflake’ was a welcome decision as I personally feel it brings out more in the song. Of course what would a final gig be without a speech, and before the final song Nick delivered it and gave thanks to all that have supported the band in any shape or form over the years. There was no escaping it now, hard as we would like to forget that this was the end, they chose ‘Four Hours’ to falsely close on, introducing it with the pretext of everyone needs to dance to this one.
Returning to the stage for an encore with ‘This Symmetry’ was met with a great response but it was their final song that brought everything out from the crowd. As they played the opening chords of ‘Summer Somewhere’, we were all excited to hear it but at the same time we knew it was to be the last time we’d hear it live. The last time we’d hear any Maldini song live. So naturally the only thing that could be done was to give the band our all as we sang along with them. It’s a hard one to put into words how beautiful, incredible, joyful, sad and amazing it all was and the video below captures it better than anyone could ever say it. It was the only way it could have ended.
Everyone with any interest in the Sheffield music scene would always say that Maldini were on their way to becoming the defining band for the city, but now that’s sadly not the case. However what they’ve left us with is the standard that has been set incredibly high and it’s not going to be an easy feat for someone to try and take up the mantle. There wasn’t a band like them when they came along, and there won’t be another. Screaming Maldini will be a band that will always live on and even as they put down their instruments for the last time, they’ve given us enough to go on, enough to continuously inspire and they’ve given us the perfect last show.
We’ll miss you, and thank you for everything. As for what happens next, I guess we’ll just adapt.
All photographs by Penny Blakemore
Footage filmed by Ben Eckersley