The Maccabees live in London
- By Greg Rose -
- Jan 27, 2012
"Due to illness Lana Del Rey is regrettably not able to perform at tonight's MTV Brand New For 2012 show at London's Koko, and sends her apologies to all her fans." Not the email you want to receive as you arrive at the venue looking forward to seeing the most talked about pop act of the past few months.
However, it wasn't The Maccabees' fault that the self-styled gangster Nancy Sinatra couldn't perform (unless they gave her food poisoning backstage and we don't know about it). So the stage was clear for indie's enduring darlings to show the fuss about their return is justified.
'Wall Of Arms', The Maccabees second album, was a triumph. It took them from tinny upstarts with a few cracking tunes to vital proponents of thoughtful yet still thrilling indie rock. Now third record 'Given To The Wild' is a clear play for the big time - and there's nothing wrong with that.
New single 'Pelican' is catchy and muscular, and 'Feel To Follow' is performed with high sophistication and delicate interplay between the band. However, such is the departure that there is a lop-sided feel to The Maccabees' set. First album fodder 'X-Ray' sounds tired, and old favourite 'Precious Time', with its call-and-response candidness, feels almost out of place.
One peculiarity is singer Orlando Weeks' delivery. There have been many observations that he sounds like Chris Martin on Given To The Wild. While this is harsh, there is a hint in his hushed tones of the Coldplay frontman. But it works well on the considered soundscapes of the new songs. There is no need to extend this to the joyous, jaunty choruses of tracks like 'Can You Give It'. Sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout, but do it too much and you will never get heard.
Nevertheless, Felix's flailing hair and guitar and Orlando's stalking stage presence are captivating at times. Tempo changes abound, often within songs, and the ferocity of 'No Kind Words' was worth the entrance fee alone. In their stride, The Maccabees have few rivals in their ability to draw you into their show, with numbers zipping past like subtle bullets.
Although this was a MTV Brand New for 2012 gig, this is no flash in the pan band. Honed over time, they are still going forward and experimenting to nail their own sound. There's no shame in that, and it's a treat to watch their journey.