Live Review: Maximo Park @ Brixton Academy

By johnmcga Last edited 177 months ago
Live Review: Maximo Park @ Brixton Academy

Maximo Park's Paul Smith is some front man. And as he leaps on stage and launches into first album classic Graffiti at a packed Brixton Academy, the whole crowd knows it.

Or maybe the attentive audience is just glad the Park have started with an old favourite. Their latest album, Quicken the Heart, has received pretty average reviews - and that must hurt a band that set such a high standard with previous records.

Perhaps they feel they have something to prove, because there’s certainly no holding back tonight. Smith is all over the stage - although he sounds characteristically nervous when he stops to speak, the heartfelt lyrics, crazy dancing, higher-than-you-thought-possible jumps and trademark bowler hat all tell their own story.

And yes: they sound good. Performed live, some of the new material has masses of extra depth, although there’s still a distinct lack of the angular guitars, punchy chords and catchy hooks you expect from these northern indie-rockers.

It’s occasionally tricky to make out the vocals over the thumping bass too, even when Smith produces a megaphone from somewhere. But despite missing out on some of the lyrical subtleties, this big crowd gets what it wants from the five-piece. The set includes plenty of old favourites, keeping even the most casual fans happy.

In fact, there’s probably more chance of the Brixton Academy ditching Carlsberg in favour of a decent beer than of anyone getting bored at this gig.

There’s no danger of complacency either. Smith thanks everyone for turning up - at length - making clear that this rather special venue is a special place for the band too. And of course they play Roller Disco Dreams, their “song about Brixton”.

As they close out a triumphant evening with a mass singalong to Apply Some Pressure, it’s hard to imagine Quicken the Heart as anything but a blip on Maximo Park’s ascent to true greatness. In fact, after selling out two nights at Brixton, they might need to look for a bigger venue next time they come to London.

Maximo Park are off to tour Europe now, but you can catch them at festivals over the summer, including Reading, Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight.

By John McGarvey

Last Updated 29 May 2009