Maximo Park


“This is a song about waiting for something to happen in your town,” Paul Smith announces to the hot, heaving crowd before the opening bars of ‘Graffiti’ build and smash over an electrified crowd.

After also selling out the Albert Hall in 2015 with their A Certain Trigger tenth anniversary tour, the band have proved that it’s much more than nostalgia that attracts Manchester to Maxïmo Park. Their magnetism, attitude, skill and frank-but-never-depressing outlook has ensured that the band has not only remained on the radar, but have been consistently acclaimed since their 2005 debut.

Back then, as a second-year uni student, Maxïmo Park were on my playlist alongside the likes of Long Blondes, Futureheads, Giant Drag and Kaiser Chiefs, most of which weren’t destined for longevity.

With Paul Smith’s collaborations, artistic projects and solo work gaining momentum, there was always the added risk that he would sideline his first band to walk other creative avenues. However, there’s something unique about Maxïmo Park which ensures their survival and it shines during their gigs. The band remains interested, engaged, relevant and in love with what they do, inspiring everyone else to feel the same.

A well-balanced set that has the future as well as the past at heart always makes for the best gigs. As Smith points out several times, choosing songs from six albums can be a poisoned chalice, but there don’t seem to be any problems this evening.

Their electro-tinged latest release Risk to Exist gets the lion’s share of play time and the new tracks fit into the Maxïmo Park canon well. ‘Get High (No I Don’t)’ ends the encore and the title track only serves to ramp up the momentum among the adoring crowd.

Material from Our Earthly Pleasures also features heavily, with the much-loved ‘Books from Boxes’ acting as a touching breather in its melancholic finery, before a roof-crumbling rendition of ‘Our Velocity’ followed by ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’.

The set isn’t the only thing that engages the crowd. Star-jumping in his leopard-print shirt, green belt, loud socks and jazz shoes but barely seeming to break a sweat, Smith’s ability to make fronting a band look completely effortless is always astounding. He’s the only person since film noir that can be forgiven for choosing a trilby as a trademark accessory – just about.

On the last night of this relatively short tour, the Albert Hall is an easy win for the band. A city with a highly developed sense for authentic, well-crafted and passionate music, Manchester will always turn up at the coal face for Maxïmo Park.

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