Gig Review

Maximo Park
Bombay Bicycle Club, Stricken City
Birmingham, Academy
19th May 2009
Maximo Park              Bombay Bicycle Club           Stricken City      
Photo Of Bombay Bicycle Club © Copyright Helen WilliamsLovable northern geeks Maxïmo Park return to Birmingham on the back of their latest album, Quicken The Heart. Despite reading mixed reviews, I’m looking forward to seeing the band for the first time in 2 years, and seeing how they’ve evolved since then.

As I follow the surprisingly mature audience into the Academy and collect my ticket, my ears are met by the sound of the first support act, Stricken City. Fronted by a failing, wailing Rebekah Raa, the band deliver overly long, self-indulgent songs. The music is decent, if not slightly repetitive, but it’s Rebekah’s pretentious prancing and bohemian pomp that gets to me. I’m not alone in my opinion of the band; they receive an indifferent reception from the majority of the audience.

Thankfully, Bombay Bicycle Club are up next, and they pick up the pace. The band members are impossibly young, and incredibly talented. Frontman Jack Steadman doesn’t look comfortable in his own skin, and writhes around the stage like a restless schoolboy. There’s also an irrepressible smile plastered across his face for the entire set, which probably has something to do with the fact that they’re supporting Maxïmo Park at the tender age of about 15(?). Their music is a unique blend of indie and rock, and their meandering instrumental sections remind me of Explosions In The Sky. With their incredible energy, obvious talent, as well as having age on their side, this is a band to look out for in the near future.

Photo Of Maximo Park © Copyright Helen WilliamsFinally, Maxïmo Park take to the stage and their highly anticipated set begins with ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’. From the beginning, frontman Paul Smith is the main attraction. The other members of the band look a little lost, and keep to themselves at the back of the stage, while Paul prances around in his slightly awkward, slightly scary dancing style. In between songs he slips into a geeky shyness, rambling about what each song means. But that’s why we love him.

They play a perfect mix of older songs, crowd pleasers, and new material. The crowd naturally favour their older songs, and their better known tracks (‘Our Velocity’, ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’). There was less enthusiasm for some of their newer tracks, but this could be because people haven’t had time to listen to them yet, since the album has barely been out a week. Personally, some of their new tracks are among my favourites already; most notably ‘A Cloud Of Mystery’ and ‘I Haven’t Seen Her In Ages’.

The highlights of the evening are ‘Books From Boxes’ (I don’t think there’s a single person not singing along), ‘Questing, Not Coasting’, (another of the best of the new tracks), and ‘By The Monument’. Sadly, they play a surprisingly short set of just over an hour. As they return for their 3 song encore, Paul explains that they will play 2 old songs (‘Graffiti’ and ‘Apply Some Pressure’) instead of 2 new songs because the crowd has been ‘so kind’. We show our appreciation by singing our hearts out, savouring the last few moments of the Park.

Stricken City – 2/5
Bombay Bicycle Club – 4/5
Maxïmo Park – 5/5

Review By Helen Williams

 Maximo Park

Tom English (Drums)
Duncan Lloyd (Guitars)
Paul Smith (Vocals)
Archis Tiku (Bass)
Lukas Wooller (Keyboards)

 Bombay Bicycle Club

Jack Steadman (vocals, guitars, bass)
Jamie MacColl (guitars, bass, vocals)
Suren De Saram (drums, chanting)
Ed Nash (bass, keys)

 Stricken City

Rebekah Raa (Vocals)
Iain Pettifer (Guitar)
Mike Hyland (Bass)
Kit Godfrey (Drums)

 Band Related Links
Maximo Park Myspace
Bombay Bicycle Club Myspace
Stricken City Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?