Wednesday, 25 February 2015

LIVE: The Maccabees, Sheffield Leadmill, 21.02.2015



When you love a band - I mean, really love a band - it can become difficult to be objective. Conversations down the pub about which album is best threaten to break out into actual violence, missing a tour date becomes an inconceivable prospect and any missteps in their career are dismissed as them 'going through a transitional period'. 

The Maccabees are a band I really love, and so it goes without saying that I would defend their brilliance to the hilt. However, one of the many reasons I love them is their consistency, and their desire to make sure their music is absolutely perfect before showing it to their fans. Almost two years in the making, their impending fourth album has been long awaited and shrouded in relative secrecy, save for a short stretch of shows with Kasabian at the back end of last year. It's why tonight feels so special, so exciting. Indeed, The Maccabees are ready to give their new material to the wilds.

Before all that though, the sparsely populated room is treated to the sonic stylings of LSA, a band who's name throws up results ranging from the Liverpool School of Architecture all the way to the Late Stone Age if you put it into Google. Search a little deeper, and you'll find that their name actually stands for 'Love Stays Alive', a reaction against the superficial judgement made against new bands starting out. But do LSA pass the flash in the pan test? While the nepotism of being Maccabees members Hugo and Felix's brother will probably not be lost on lead singer Will White, they are a captivating little outfit, laid-back yet somehow earnest on the likes of 'Can't Be Trusted' and 'More Or Less Equal' a song that sounds like the poster anthem for the 2007 'Best Midlands' movement despite LSA's London postcode. Without succumbing to the normal mundane 'how you doing Sheffield?!' schtick, they come across self-assured and ultimately, very promising. 

With chants of 'MAC..A..BEEEEEEES' increasing in volume at the same steady level as the room's sweaty temperature, tonight's headliner take to the stage in traditionally unassuming fashion. 'Wall Of Arms' is a fitting opener, an ode to the camaraderie between fan and band that has sustained them for so many years. As the track reaches it's peak the crowd surge forward, and the spell is broken - just like bumping into an old friend, the recognition of a song loaded with memories makes it feel like they never went away.

Mingling with such classics as 'Precious Time', 'William Powers' and a deliciously rare outing of 'Latchmere', there of course are new songs. In spades. All five of them, delivered with the confidence of a first album track. 

While it's always difficult to get a measure on a track from only one listen, it's near on impossible not to feel immediately satisfied with the quality of what is offered over tonight. When they were describing to NME 'both the fastest and slowest music [they've] ever done', it's clear they were referring at least in part to 'Marks To Prove It', a track that carries the same wide-eyed euphoria of 'pelican' but with even more pace. Any record label with any sense would declare it the first single on the spot. 

In direct comparison, the coconut-stomp of 'WW1 Portraits' constantly feels on the cusp of something bigger, so much so that when that inevitable drop comes, it floods the room with palpable, intoxicating relief. Tension has always been something The Maccabees have been great at, and it's clear that the new record will be loaded with it, dripping in emotion. 

Rounded out by Given To The Wild's magical closer 'Grew Up At Midnight', tonight's show has been a masterclass in the comeback. Showing tangible evidence of progression with the same old charm, The Maccabees stand once more as proof that the nice guy doesn't always finish last. Prepare your stereos. 


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