Gig/Concert: The Maccabees
Venue: Manchester Academy, Manchester, England
Date: 6 October 2009
Headliners: The Maccabees
In one word: Kindred
Nothing could put a dampener on my excitable spirits on this evening, not even the torrential rain that poured continuously throughout my journey to Manchester Academy. Seeing The Maccabees, a five piece band from South London via Brighton. I’ve seen the band twice before, most recently in May when they played the Academy 2 in the Student’s Union. Their second album, Wall Of Arms, had been released only a few days before the gig, but the fans welcomed the new tracks with open arms. Five months down the line and practically everyone in the crowd was singing every word along with front man Orlando Weeks.
The support came from a trio called Peggy Sue (formerly known as Peggy Sue and the Pirates, but alas, the Pirates have upped and left), also from Brighton. They played a half hour set to a growing crowd during which the two female members, Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw, swapped instruments at least 5 times. Multi-talented musicians, that’s what I like to see! Memorable songs of theirs were ‘The Sea The Sea’, ‘Once We Were Strangers’ and ‘Watchman’. Their alternative folk music paved the way nicely for The Maccabees’ set.
There is always a certain vibe at a Maccabees concert; anyone who has seen them live can vouch for that. As soon as they take to the stage the crowd and band become one big, happy family, looking out for each other. Except, at this gig, there were two distant cousins twice removed who weren’t all that welcome, or welcoming. Part way through the set during Colour It In track ‘Precious Time’, a fight broke out right behind where I was stood. Not just a petty scrap, a full on fight. Guitarist Felix White came right to the edge of the stage and told the rowdy twosome to interject: “Oi! What do you think you’re doing? Get outside if you want to do that. We’ll have none of that in here.”The band had stopped playing and Orlando Weeks had a look of bewilderment across his face. The room was quiet, I think everyone was pretty stunned, until he started singing the chorus to the song. Fighting at a metal show or a hardcore punk gig, fair enough, it does happen sometimes, but not at an indie show where the band sing of toothpaste kisses, trips to Disneyland and a local swimming pool.
The band quickly moved on to ‘Dinosaurs’, a track from their new album, but it was clear that Felix was still distracted. He was peering out into the crowd, checking that everything was ok. It wasn’t until the next song that the usual fun-loving mood had returned and the band got back into the full swing of things. That’s what I love about The Maccabees; they care about their fans. Throughout the gig, Orlando kept asking if everyone was alright, saying that he’d keep checking back over the course of the night. The band feed off the audience’s reaction. Felix, coming to the edge of the stage and posing for any cameras pointing his way with a huge grin on his face, as everyone sang along and bounced to the beat, giving the thumbs up between songs, is a performer I could watch all day. A great entertainer. Even though this band have come a long way, it’s clear that they still love playing live to the people who buy and enjoy their music, and the band share a kindred connection with their loyal fanbase.
The band were on stage for over an hour and 15 minutes, playing a long and pleasing set. They played their second album in its entirety, along with a handful of tracks from their first and a couple of B Sides from recent single ‘Love You Better’. For certain songs, the boys were flanked by a brass section which was a nice surprise. The two guitarists, and brothers, Felix and Hugo White both took to the mic to sing lead vocals on their songs ‘Accordion’ and ‘Hearts That Strangle’. During the latter, Felix looked on with brotherly love and support. I haven’t heard ‘Latchmere’ in any of their live sets for a long time, so to hear the opening chords sent me and the rest of the crowd into a dancing frenzy. Slow crooner ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ received one of the biggest welcomings of the night, with the crowd whistling along with ‘Weeks’, until they picked up the pace with ‘Lego’, one of my favourite songs from their first album, which had everyone dancing again.
I wished ‘Love You Better’ would never arrive as the gig had been the best one I’d been to in awhile, but it was the perfect end to a great set list and a great gig. The Maccabees remind me that there are great bands out there with good songs who love playing live and who aren’t just in it for the time being; it looks as if these boys are in it for the long run.
© Francesca Howell
No Kind Words
One Hand Holding
Can You Give It
Wall of Arm
Kiss & Resolve
Hearts That Strangle
Bag Of Bones
Love You Better