LIVE REVIEW: Maximo Park at Camden Roundhouse, London

Maximo Park

The first thing one notices with the artwork from Maximo Park’s latest LP, Nature Always Wins, is the stunning post-impressionist thick oil-based brushstrokes depicting an unidentified being in the water. Concerning artwork, the Newcastle upon Tyne trio have moved from using “Graffiti” to focusing on “Great Art”, the non-album single which followed Nature Always Wins’ release.

Maximo Park must be something more than “Great Art”, and “Graffiti” since Nature Always Wins earned them their highest charting LP since Our Earthly Pleasures was released 15 years earlier.

Before the Maximo Park set, support came from Dutch outfit Pip Blom who take the name from their female lead singer who played hits, including those from their most recent self-produced sophomore album Welcome Break.

When Maximo Park addressed the stage, they didn’t allow sophisticated artworks or graffiti to talk for them; a simple black backdrop with “Maximo Park” written in a white font created just as much noise and reaction as any artwork designed to shock ever could. Frontman Paul Smith, attired in a black trilby hat and black suit covering a white t-shirt with white trainers, blended in perfectly and opened the set with “All of Me” from Nature Always Wins.

Fans were then transported back to 2005 when Maximo Park played “The Night I Lost My Head”, which had to be restarted owing to drum machine issues. The audience was unperturbed when the fourth song, about being “a complete dafty”, also had to be restarted. Smith had already removed his jacket to reveal a “No War” t-shirt to the crowd’s excitement, and once the glorious synths and Joy Division leaning intro kicked in, the crowd were elated. The Roundhouse then reached seventh heaven once the subsequent guitar parts kicked in.

Maximo Park chose to play the political “The National Health” six songs in, a song about fears of people being manipulated into thinking the country needs “to get back to an imaginary dreamland”. The poignancy of this song was received as being more urgent and relevant than when it was initially released ten years ago.

From politically charging the crowd by reminding them of present geo-political realities, the band quickly and humorously managed to transport the crowd back into a state of jolly escapism with “Karaoke Plays”, which saw Smith perform the first of many impressive Kung-Fu style kicks. Audience elation and confidence to mosh and dance reached new levels twelve songs in with the classic “Our Velocity”. Once Smith said, “are you ready to hard rock Roundhouse?” the crowd knew they were in for a classic treat and reacted with a sincere display of excitable appreciation. Other singles, including “The Kids Are Sick Again”, “Books from Boxes”, and “Apply Some Pressure”, followed before the encore.

Three songs followed the encore, including the sophomore album opener, “Girls Who Play Guitars”. Maximo Park played out with a song which sought to prove that romance wasn’t dead, which included an arrangement where the other half was required to sing to the band in French. This infectious guitar and organ-loaded song, which is itself a great work of art, is called “Graffiti”.

The fact that Maximo Park didn’t need to rely on visuals to stimulate the audience is a testament to their back catalogue. The fact that songs from all seven albums featured throughout the set without one in particular disproportionately dominating is something that is becoming harder for artists who have been in existence for over two decades to do. Whilst classic singles are expected, there is seldom concern that Maximo Park will be cornered into being solely a noughties time capsule.

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 297 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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