In an industry where artists are expected to turnover a record in quick succession from the last one, (see Rihanna fans badgering her over the delay of ‘Anti’), The Maccabees love taking their sweet time with things.
Following the 2012 release of their critically acclaimed third LP ‘Given To The Wild’, it would have been all too easy for the quintet to rush back into the studio in an attempt to recreate that magic. Instead, they took just under four years – an age by industry standards – preparing ‘Marks To Prove It’ an album which saw a welcome return to the youthful exuberance displayed on earlier releases.
As they come on stage, it seems that the time away from the scene did nothing but whet the appetite of fans. This would, in turn, explain the band’s hugely varied set, bringing it all the way back to ’05 with some of ‘Colour It In’s deep cuts.
Marks To Prove It sets a jubilant tone, with the descending key notes sounding almost horror movie-esque at the close. The cover of the album is perched above a stunning bank of lights which are used to great effect throughout the set. It’s as much a light show as it is a Maccabees show.
For the band, timing is everything – Feel To Follow sees singer Orlando Weeks masterfully build tension; cooing attention before the rest of the band crash in with frantic strings. The brass section of Wall Of Arms seemingly brings the song to another dimension, setting the bar very high for the rest of the night.
“There is no God above me/No devil below me/No purgatory, no pearly gates/The worms are what await me … ” is as striking as lyric now as it was six years ago.
Ultimately, the glorious nostalgia that the older material delivers is unrivaled. The band’s sound is quintessentially noughties indie – a sound which undoubtedly paved the way for so many bands starting out now. It’s a challenge to not get ccarried away listening to the hollers of Can You Give It from the crowd. The shift in energy is tangible, and felt similarly during strong performances of X-Ray and Precious Time. Kamakura, from the new album, is a brooding, smoke-on-the-water affair that Kings Of Leon have done 300 times over, and it loses a lot of sincerity on its live outing.
The strongest effort on the night sees the band at their most aggressive – No Kind Words developed into it’s own kind of beast, sprawling off the edges of the stage. Softly-spoken syllables are shoved aside for a more a ferocious, gritty delivery.
Following with Grew Up At Midnight meant the song was always going to be threatened by fervoured whispering, but they deliver it elegantly and without much fuss. Pre-encore, Something Like Happiness is a throbbing, percussion and brass-heavy ache of a love song with minimal clichés.
Their four song encore ends with their two biggest tracks. Toothpaste Kisses, sees Weeks exercising some seriously strong whistling – something which can not be emulated by any attendee, sober or otherwise. It remains as gorgeous and sparse a love story as there was Pelican remains as raucous live as it on record – and the reaction it causes is pretty unbelievable considering how long they’ve been at things.
The Maccabees are comfortable in what they do, and exactly how they do it. They are confident without being brash. They speak candidly about playing songs like X-Ray ten years ago when nobody knew them or cared about them. Bravado is limited – all exchanges with Weeks and the crowd are so reserved that at some point he’s inaudible. This is band more concerned with timing, and above all else, consistency. Nothing The Maccabees have ever produced is a half effort – the same thought process applies to the live shows.