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Review: Maximo Park @ O2 Academy Newcastle

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Maximo Park - London

A few seconds of Paul Smith’s voice is all you need to hear to know that Maximo Park are from the North East – and what better way to end a tour than with a sold-out homecoming gig.

O2 Academy Newcastle was alive with fans of all ages as the alternative five-piece made a heroic return to their home city. Since the release of their debut album almost ten years ago, Maximo Park have been famous for their quirky riffs, huge indie anthems and electric live performances and tonight was certainly no exception.

Support came from Hartlepool indie quintet, Palace, and London trio, Teleman, whose infectious guitar music proved to be a fantastic warm-up for the main event. The room quickly filled up and anticipation built as the crowd awaited Maximo Park.

Dressed sharply in a suit and his trademark trilby, Paul led the band on-stage to screams of applause. They launched into the set with the opening track of their new album Too Much Information and followed it up with an old favourite, Our Velocity, which sent the crowd completely wild. Beer was spilt and mosh pits broke out but there wasn’t a person in sight who didn’t seem to be loving every second.

As ever, each member of the band put heaps of energy and passion into the show. They had the audience in the palm of their hands from the get-go and played through a range of tracks not only from their newest record, but from all corners of their discography.

A lilac and turquoise haze set over the stage for one of Too Much Information’s shining tracks, Leave This Island. The cool synths and tender vocals were captivating and despite it being a new track, the crowd were hooked. Following this was Books from Boxes, a love song from the band’s second album to which the whole crowd sung along in unison. There was even a boy of no more than ten singing it word-for-word and wearing a matching hat to Paul’s.

Lyrically, Maximo Park have always been an emotional band that really connect with their fans. Paul’s performance at the academy was consistently honest yet sometimes verging on theatrical as well. He without a doubt has the best hip-wiggling, scissor-kicking dance moves in our generation of indie and has such charisma when he performs. As far as frontmen go, there’s no one quite like him.

It’s always special for a band to play in their local region, particularly when there’s such a sense of home entwined in the music. There are little delicacies within Maximo Park songs that only people from the North East will understand, like references to bars and landmarks and even things as simple as the metro system.

After an epic encore of Where We’re Going and Going Missing, the band took time to soak in the reaction of the adoring crowd before them. Hundreds of hands reached out to them and the noise level was off the scale.

A sea of happy people spilled out of the venue once the band had left the stage. These guys remain one of the most exciting, fast-paced and energetic bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. There are many reasons for which I take pride in being Northern, but after tonight, nothing makes me quite as proud as Maximo Park.

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