Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Maxïmo Park @ Birmingham Academy, 19/05/09

I left this gig high, with the impression that the crowd had loved the show almost as much as I had, from the cheering and calling Maxïmo back on for an extended encore. However, all I overheard on the journey home were comments about how average it had been.

So that's my 'taking-other-people's-opinions-into-account' quota met. Personally, I thought they were pretty good. While putting up posters before the gig with my friend (who works at the Academy) I saw Lukas Wooller eating his dinner in the Academy canteen. I feigned nonchalance, as my friend could lose his job for approaching band members, it's against the rules...but Lukas could see from my Maxïmo Park shirt and vaguely starstruck expression that I had noticed him. We also saw Duncan Lloyd wandering rather aimlessly around on the balcony, exploring the venue maybe, or just lost. It was a little dreamlike, but I'm not usually one to 'freak out' on seeing my favourite musicians. An uttered 'God, it's Duncan as well' sufficed.

The support acts were both average. Stricken City up first sounded a little like Florence & The Machine, and the songs were okay but repetitive. I wasn't struck (pun intended). The second support were Bombay Bicycle Club, a band I've heard of and have been told I should like. I wasn't too impressed though, they could play their guitars but they chose not to in many tracks; the lead singer looked like he was on some kind of hallucinagenic stimulant and the bassist looked like he was on some kind of sedative. The crowd seemed to like it though, there were chants of "BBC!" and cheering.

Maxïmo Park launched into The Coast Is Always Changing at about half past nine, and the crowd were having a good time. I was about 2 rows back, but the front row were unusually tall so I couldn't see much. All the same, I could see Paul Smith with his dramatic facial expressions and Lukas with his rigid dancing behind the keyboard. (Sometimes I think Paul's just in a band so he can dance like a man possessed: he'd probably get chucked out of a club for scaring the clientele, but he's allowed to do it when he's the frontman of a band.) They're the personalities onstage. Archis Tiku just stood at the back, Duncan got on with playing his guitar, and Tom English played drums rather regally, haloed by pink and purple lights every time I looked.

I can't recall the full order of the setlist, but these are the songs they played as far as I can remember: The Coast Is Always Changing, The Penultimate Clinch, Girls Who Play Guitars, Going Missing, Our Velocity, Let's Get Clinical, Tanned, Nosebleed, Overland West Of Suez, By The Monument, Questing Not Coasting, I Want You To Stay, Books From Boxes, Postcard Of A Painting, Roller Disco Dreams, Limassol, Wraithlike, The Kids Are Sick Again, and then the encore: I Haven't Seen Her In Ages, Graffiti and Apply Some Pressure. Graffiti they added because the crowd were being 'very kind' (hence my suprise at the abundance of negativity from people afterwards). A group of girls and I shouted for Graffiti, so I want to believe they played it because of us, but it's probably not true. I'd forgotten how amazing surround sound is for Maxïmo Park songs, with the textural interplay between keyboards, bass and guitar being panned across the room.


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