All entries for Thursday 01 November 2007

November 01, 2007

Maximo Park: Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Maxïmo Park
Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
10th Ocotober 2007 

Alexandra Szydlowska

    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.


Broken Social Scene Birmingham Academy 17th October

Broken Social Scene presents… Kevin Drew

Live @ Birmingham Academy - 17/10/2007

James Riley

Kevin Drew loves you. In fact, Kevin Drew loves everyone. He made a particular effort to show this at the last Broken Social Scene gig I attended while they were promoting their last record. He clambered off stage and came out into the crowd during their closer, hugging everyone that cared, including myself, before eventually running out of people and getting back to the microphone to finish off the song and set. In any other circumstance, you could probably label the act as ‘hippy’, as ‘pretentious’, but with Kevin and BSS, there’s something different, something more sincere happening.

Openers Noah & The Whale were very sincere indeed. Starting tentatively with a pluck and a croak, it built very gently, in almost complete silence, until drums, violin and harmonium filtered in to reveal a band sounding almost as if Alfie were resurrected not from Manchester but the West Country. I thought their barn burning songs would become too much but they rescued it with the closing pair of Rocks and Daggers and chirpy (sold out) single 5 Years Time.

The words on the ticket may have said ‘Broken Social Scene’ but anyone actually expecting the sprawling collective to be together here would inevitably be disappointed. Instead, we got six typical indie-rock guys filling the room with feedback interspersed with the melodies and harmonies that come from one of Spirit If…’s better moments in Lucky Ones. It was loud, and it ruined a lot of the subtleties that come across on the actual album. Inevitably, it was no surprise that the best songs in the first half were BSS’s ‘own’. Cause=Time, Stars and Sons and Superconnected all got an airing, suiting the loud and pulsing dynamic, whereas Tbtf, Fucked Up Kid and Safety Bricks didn’t really work well amidst the fuzz and actually missed the female counterpoint that BSS usually have.

It took an abortive attempt at Gang Bang Suicide later on to really kick the songs into gear. Kevin stopped mid-song to reprimand some talking in the front row, before leading his band into two sublime performances of Farewell to the Pressure Kids and Bodhi Sappy Weekend. Entering the final stretch, they followed this up with an extended version of the already brilliant Lover’s Spit, adding trumpet courtesy of Jimmy Shaw from Metric, breaking it down before blowing it up again. After such an amazing ending, it seemed redundant to add the ‘encore’ of Major Label Debut. However, it was poignant to have Kevin shouting the lines “It means I love you!” to finish off.

After the talking altercation, Kevin walked down to the front row and apologised to the people he embarrassed, proving that yes, Kevin Drew does love everyone, but he loves his music more.


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