One of my favourite bands were finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve. The support band for this gig was Mumford & Sons, although we choose to watch the Champions League Semi-Final between Chelsea and Barcelona in the pub instead. Dodged a bullet, there.
Date: May 6, 2009
Venue: Rescue Rooms
The Maccabees are a zany box of tricks alright – their razor sharp songs are constructed of tight guitar stabs and a Futureheads-doing-XTC execution. But there’s something different about this South London-via-Brighton crew this time around. They have a new, darker, pensive album under their wings, and the songs performed from it form a welcome buffer when stood up against the sprightly Maccabees direction of yore.
They’ve reappeared as glowering figures, wiser in their conviction and brimming with a fresh sense of maturity set in an early Cure/Gang Of Four sound. They’ve evolved into a two-dimensional indie beast and now blend the playfully puppyish with the brooding expertly.
Latest single – and set closer – Love You Better is still feverishly jerky with spidery, edgy guitars that needle like a nagging doubt, but it’s also fearsomely caliginous. And if that sounds dark, the practically dingy No Kind Words – which they start with – is a foreboding, bass-quivering monster that makes White Lies look like kaleidoscopic nut jobs CSS after too much Sunny D. Then there’s Kiss and Resolve, which is akin to Joy Division playing Motown.
But just when you think they’ve lost their joi de verve up pops the teasing indie anthem Precious Time, which is echoed right back at them by the ravenous crowd. The lightning-paced X-Ray is still a firm fan favourite, and the spiky First Love is a barrowful of fun. Vintage love song Toothpaste Kisses, too, kicks off a sing-song that has more in common with wartime Britain than a mid-set song in an indie den.
However, after all the good work, there are a few grievances. The set is short – too short – lasting just under an hour. And, despite ardent cries for it, we don’t get their best song, as Latchmere is unceremoniously discarded, cruelly leaving the baying crowd to wander off without their fix of the song which started the whole love affair in the first place.
But these are minor criticisms of an otherwise excellent return. If the strategy was quality rather than quantity there can be no complaints.