Maximo Park belong in one of those -how to do something unrealistically quickly’ self-help books. You can just picture them under the title, -how to burn 1000 calories in just one hour’, wedged in between ice climbing at high altitude and running a middle distance race along the North Korean border: dance like Maximo Park, and be thin in a week. In fact, vocalist Paul Smith performs with such energy you only notice his feet have touched the ground at all when he’s bouncing on his stage-front light box, stamping his feet to throw homemade, strobe-speed flashes across the crowd in time to his dramatic lyrics.
The last time I had the good fortune to catch up with the five Geordie lads, they had Arctic Monkeys as their support. Whilst the poetic Sheffield band have disappeared over the sunset since then, Maximo Park haven’t done too badly either, and tonight’s performance is a sign of just how far they’ve come. All the old favorites – ‘My Velocity’, ‘Going Missing’, ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ – are performed without even the slightest hint of nonchalance, and The Academy crowd lap it up. Arty opener ‘Grafitti’ and a magnificent sing-along rendition of ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’ are four years old and as fresh as they’ve ever been.
There’s a gloriously camp edge to Maximo Park, with their huge glittery name hanging at the back of the stage over the silver spangly drums. The pulsing stage front light bulbs and Smith’s Indie posturing combines perfectly with quiet keyboard player Lukas Wooller, who’s defies the odds my producing a note perfect accompaniment despite his unfeasibly energetic leaping. Few bands could get away with fusing this kind of art-rock cool with undeniable on stage camp, but Maximo Park leave no doubt.
On top of the classics, Maximo debuted a host of tracks from new album Quicken the Heart, including the imaginatively named ‘In Any Other World (I’d Have Found Myself by Now)’, and they fit right in with the old favorites. At the end of a typically lively encore, ‘Apply Some Pressure’ sees the Academy descend into what can only be described a jubilant carnage. Relatively speaking, there’s no doubt that Maximo Park are on the slow track to the (very) big time, but what they’ve learnt from the last couple of years is there for all the world to see. A busy Monday night crowd at the Academy leave knowing that they’re going to get there, one gig at a time.
Photo by Edel Nic Caba.