Tuesday, 19th May 2009. I remember the night well. Very well. It was the second time I’d ever seen Maximo Park (★★★★★) live and I knew back then it wouldn’t be the last. Eight years, more than a few grey hairs and a seven-year-old daughter later, the husband and I caught the train into the city to catch the band live once more.
The band hit the stage to rapturous applause and start the set with two brand new songs, What Did We Do To You To Deserve This? and Risk To Exist from their brand-new album, Risk To Exist and the set list is peppered with offerings from it throughout, including the fantastic Work and then Wait, I’ll Be Around and The Reason I Am Here. Considering the album was released just two weeks ago, the new material already sounds like it’s been around for a while. It’s what we expect to hear from the Newcastle Upon Tyne five-piece but it sounds fresh and vibrant, nevertheless. It’s when the band crack open the can of Maximo Park classics though that the crowd go wild and they’ve certainly got plenty to choose from thanks to their seventeen-year-old, 7 album career.
It’s the firm favourites from A Certain Trigger and Our Earthly Pleasures that up the atmosphere in the packed-out Institute. Books From Boxes, I Want You To Stay, Our Velocity and Going Missing sound as good as ever, if not better. The main set ends with the incredible, Girls Who Play Guitars.
Now, the band could have gone down the safe route and ended the encore set with Apply Some Pressure and even though it was, for me, the stand out track of the last three songs, they left us with the second track off their new album, Get High (No, I Don’t) and it’s bloody brilliant.
What continues to strike me about this band, in particular, front man, Paul Smith, is how epic and energetic their music and performance is. It’s all a bit of a contradiction and I mean that in the best possible way. To look at them, you wouldn’t expect the music they produce and you really can’t pigeonhole them by genre. There’s so much going on, musically and lyrically, that their style is completely their own. Okay, you could say there’s a bit of rock, punk, pop and eighties electro but there’s also so much more. Smith’s genius lyrics are pure poetry, sitting atop a wall of sound created by the rest of the band. It’s all this that really sets them apart and it’s what keeps us going back for more and more.