Live review // The Maccabees

O2 Academy, Leeds
10/03/2012

With the release of their anticipated third album Given to the Wild and last week’s confirmation of  headline slots at the NME/Radio 1 tents for August’s Reading and Leeds festivals, 2012 looks set to be the year of The Maccabees. Such was the overriding mood at Leeds’ O2 Academy last weekend – an engaging and energetic gig that somehow maintained a fairly intimate feel, as though the crowd were the lucky few in on an exclusive secret that was about to go wild.

Support for The Maccabees came from London-based band Childhood: although they had an air of shyness about them on stage (the frontman admitted that ours was the largest crowd they’d ever played for), there was nevertheless something effortlessly cool about their blend of indie pop, easy guitar riffs and just the right amount of catchy “ooooh”-based choruses. They’re a band I’ll definitely be looking out for in the future.

The Maccabees entered the room in style, with agitated chants of “Orlandooo!” from the masses of his female admirers as the devilishly handsome frontman took to the stage. Although full of atmosphere, the room kept/retained a somewhat subdued feel [throughout the first songs,] until the first notes of ‘Wall of Arms’ made those aforementioned masses of fans erupt. There was an intense crush to the front of the stage, and even a surprising number of strictly denim-clad guys couldn’t seem to resist an emotional outpour of vocals along to the song’s captivating charms. ‘Love You Better’ was another a crowd pleaser, along with tracks from the new album such as ‘Pelican’ and ‘Forever I’ve Known’.

Time seemed vastly accelerated in our little Maccabees bubble, and the band left the stage whilst the energy of gig seemed to be, if not just getting underway, then certainly whilst it was in mid-swing. The crowd hummed with anticipation for those essential will-they-won’t-they-of-course-they-will moments familiar to every gig, and they returned, of course, to meet the insistent demands for more from a room unsatisfied for the night to end. They returned to triumph and rewarded us with a few more tracks to remember this night by, and with ‘We Grew Up At Midnight’, the room was elated.

The band seemed somewhat modest on stage, and I’d have personally liked a little more energy from them, although I suppose there is that undeniable allure that comes with the territory of broody, melancholic vibes. The gig definitely felt shorter than the crowd would have liked, and we were home discussing Orlando’s new haircut over gin and tonics in preparation for their later DJ set at Propaganda at the very wrong side of 10 o’clock. My essentially stubborn manner means I’d have also liked a few more of the oldies thrown in amongst the set list to really turn the nostalgic dials to 11, although the tracks selected from the new album were certainly well received and seem to herald a more experienced, mature direction for the band. The benefit of leaving us somewhat high and dry, I suppose, is that with almost certainty everybody in that room left wanting more. If this was The Maccabees poised and ready to ignite then I can’t wait to watch the explosion at this year’s festivals.

Kate McManus

Image: Ed Fielding on Flickr

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