Following on from yesterday’s NME show headlined by the Magic Numbers, I was lucky enough to have secured tickets for this show. Headlined by Maximo Park, all the talk in the media has been of the Arctic Monkeys who in many respects had stolen the headline slot. One thing is for sure, they had stolen all the headlines in the newspapers.
Mystery Jets were first on stage. As was the case with the first act of last night, I could only catch the last few songs. This band is interesting in that the dad of one of the young members plays in the band. No doubt he’s making sure that his kid doesn’t get up to any rock and roll shenanigans whilst on tour.
We are Scientists are as American as you can get. They too have had some of the media obsession with the Arctic Monkeys rub off on them. This is due to the fact that when the Arctic Monkeys recorded an acceptance speech video for the Brits (like the Grammys only predominately for British artists) they decided to add the lead singer of We Are Scientists to their band.
Their music sounded like the Killers but without the poppy elements. Their songs were somewhat disjointed and it felt that there was something missing. As this is only their first set of publicly displayed songs, I don’t want this review to sound like too much of a criticism, their songs were good, I just feel that a second album should address these issues. They certainly have the stage presence to one day become a successful live band. The guitarist looks like Igor from Ghostbusters and they had a good time rapping off each other on stage. Look at their website for more proof of their humour (love the racoon diary piece).
Next up was what most had been waiting for. The Academy normally holds 4,500 and I have seen countless shows there, however, none have been as rammed as it was tonight. People were streaming down from the back almost continually until the start of the gig. I am sure that there must have been an extra 1,000 or so people in the venue. As the lights went down an almighty cheer went up from the crowd. Then ‘Regulate’ by Warren G came blasting out of the speakers. In a way it worked perfectly.
As did the songs. The thrill of hearing the 5000+ crowd singing along to ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ as lead singer Alex Turner decided he wouldn’t sing the first line of the chorus at the end of the song was amazing to witness. I’d never heard anything like it before. When Turner, perhaps nervous or drunk or both, decided not to sing the first verse and intro to ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ the entire crowd sung along enthusiastically and was word perfect. It was truly a special moment. At this point I had to pinch myself to remember that this is only the second time that they have played in London and that their album was released less than a month ago.
The band sang all of their ‘classics’ (for want of a better word) with fair amounts of hysteria from the crowd and banter between songs. When the lead singer, Alex says,”When everybody’s listening, it’s hard to know what to say” you can’t help but wonder whether he’s talking of tonight’s gig or ‘Monkeymania’ in general. The band also played a new song which had all the quality trademarks of the Arctic Monkey’s sound. It just wasn’t very well known by the crowd and the energy seemed to dip slightly.
Their more interesting musical piece from their album, ‘Perhaps Vampires is a bit Strong but..’ was included, perhaps to prove to the music industry (who would have been out in force) that the Monkeys are more than a passing fad and that they are true musicians in their own right. This song worked well in my opinion and was a much stronger performance than on the album.
Their set ended enthusiastically with ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’. Here all the other members of the other bands came on stage (bar Maximo Park). It was interesting to see the dad from Mystery Jets rattling a tambourine, although he did look like Jimmy Saville surrounded by a bunch of young teenagers. The song was again sung like an anthem by the crowd. In many ways it was the crowning moment of the tour and was a fitting way for them to end it. I had just experienced 21st century beatlemania. I can’t wait until I see them again at some point in the future.
With the set ended, many of the superficial musical fans, quick to latch onto a trend left. In many ways it is a bizarre tour. The Arctic Monkeys have shaken a lot of the UK music industry. This includes this gig where a band with a number one album is playing second fiddle to a band who only achieved a number 15. But this is the nature of the massive gorilla which is pounding it’s way through the industry. They have turned the industry on its head, both financially and musically. One thing that is for sure, is that they won’t return to Brixton as a support act.
With less people and more breathing space, Maximo Park’s set was enthusiastically received. Their hits were delivered with aplomb. Although I’m not sure that a band with such an energetic frontman is in need of such distractions as a series of coloured cubes in the background. The poetry of Smith’s lyrics that I wrote about in my review of the album seemed to be more obvious when witnessing them in person and are a stark contrast to the grittiness of Alex Turner’s lyrics. Highlights included ‘Kiss you Better’ and ‘Apply Some Pressure’. While the force of the guitar riff of ‘Graffiti’ was almost enough to knock the crowd down.
Their performance was perhaps hindered by the media talk of people walking out and booing the Maximo’s on the other dates of the tour. Indeed, the band seemed to try too hard. The songs had a focus and energy but the volume was cranked up to 11 as if to reinforce the fact that they were headliners. Some comments by Paul Smith which were veiled attacks on the Monkeys, and which, let’s be honest, were unnecessary. It’s not their fault that a media frenzy surrounds their every movement.
One got the feeling that it must have been a hard time for Maximo Park recently. However as the refrain from ‘Apply Some Pressure’ goes, “What happens when you lose everything? You just start again”, Maximo Park will return to London triumphant without any other band stealing their limelight and indeed they have just recently sold out a date at the academy in October. They will no doubt be loved and respected completely at this gig, as they deserve to be.