Understandably the air of anticipation was immense as Maximo Park returned home to Newcastle for a sold out academy gig as part of their UK leg of The National Health tour… and even better… It’s on a Saturday!! Mad fer it anyone?
I was pleasantly surprised by the French support, La Femme. With the stage set up in the style of the German electronic masters Kraftwerk. Four synths wide, backed by drums (kit and machine), that alone was enough to bring a smile to my face. But they soon started kicking out sped up Super Mario styled bass riffs whilst bouncing around the stage charismatically. You may be familiar with the Frenchman Jaques Dutronc. La Femme carry the exact same attitude as the 70’s mod, only they inject synths (four of them to be precise) absolute brilliance. Because as we all know French + Synth = Cool as fuck.
Maximo brought out a young, fresh-faced Newcastle crowd and despite being forced on at 8.30 by the regular academy club night ‘Propaganda’ Paul Smith and the band certainly didn’t let the early start get in their way. Lukas Wooller (the keys to The Park) opened the set with the piano intro to When I Was Wild. A subtle start before following it up with the title track from the new album The National Health which acted as the first excuse for Newcastle to let themselves go.
The career spanning set included material from all four albums, and saw Maximo on top form. Though I felt that the crowd were somewhat holding back. Maybe the early start and lack of alcohol consumption? who knows? who cares? I was front row by the end of it! Lapping up the hits new and old.
Prior to By The Monument, Paul Smith made reference to his hometown, “This one’s for those of you that ride The Metro” and the older hit went down a storm as arguably one of the best from the night. A track which brings out the best in the band, great lyrics and aggressive anthematic keys.
During the final track prior to the encore Apply Some Pressure, frontman Paul Smith was covered in the best half of a pint, though responded by losing himself in the music. Jumping down into the gap between stage and crowd shouting the lyrics into the area the pint was hurled from. Now that’s a frontman. Most sad bastards nowadays such as Axl Rose, and the ones who call themselves metal would go off and have a hissy fit. Paul Smith is without doubt one of the greatest unsung heroes in music.
They opened the three track encore with the rarely played Acrobat, led by the dark synth, as poetry was layered over it. It was followed by another from the first album, I Want You To Stay. Just about any Maximo Park fan could guess the song that ended the gig. So I’m not even going to tell you. (But I grabbed a setlist at the end and you can check out a photo of that below if you’re not really sure.)
It was special to see Maximo Park on their home ground and I sincerely hope It’s not too long until I can get my next Maximoment. They are still one of the best live bands around.
Remember you can check for upcoming dates by clicking on this link, hurry though as they are very likely to sell out – http://maximopark.com/live.php