Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
10th Ocotober 2007
You’ve got to feel sorry for the opening act sometimes. Easy enough on the eyes, they provoke a smatter of approval from the predominantly male audience as they walk on stage, all husky voices, sequins and blunt haircuts. But as soon as technical difficulties are overcome, anecdotes fall flat and they are free to strum their way into their first number, it becomes clear that Theoretical Girl and the Equations don’t stand a chance of raising any pulses tonight. The formula that the Equations have to offer, that is, three power-chord progressions, a repetitive song cycle and a stiff and manufactured stage presence, despite a hopeful burst of technical competence during the drum solo at the end of the set, just doesn’t add up. You do the math, Theoretical girl.
The next supporting band won’t be so quick to sink into obscurity, if only for the fact that Good Shoes manages to stir a dangerously inert crowd up with an infectiously energetic brand of indie pop that, though as repetitious as it may be, is quintessentially British. Hailing from Morden in London, they set the tradition straight for arty-looking suburban kids whose music features plenty of catchy guitar hooks and a hip-swinging rhythms fit to strut to in your checked slip-on shoes.
The lead singer of Maxïmo Park tonight, it’s got to be said, is an absolute hero. Paul Smith steals the show with an endearingly cheerful manner, managing to look lean and well put together in a crimson shirt and tux, despite having just thrown up from food poisoning before sticking a trilby on his head and coming out on stage. Almost immediately the crowd begins to stir and bubble as the band rips into the high-voltage favourite, ‘Our Velocity’ off new album ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’. It’s refreshing to witness a band that predominantly sings about failing relationships and yet manages to get away with being lyrical and nostalgic without being classed as trite. The key to their music is to steer clear of emotional vacuity and pretentiousness, delivering lyrics that brim with wit, wisdom and original narrative perspective. It helps that, unlike the previous two acts, it is almost impossible to trace evident influences in their music. Coming from a Maxïmo Park gig you leave with the satisfied feeling of having witnessed the coming-of-age of a great band that has heart and feeling and promises to grow with you.