The Maccabees - Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth 08/08/11
Words by Lindsay Allan
The Maccabees have been on the rise and rise to success these past few years. The release of their second album Wall of Arms received fantastic reviews, as did their homecoming gig at Brixton Academy. Last year they headlined the ever-popular NME Tour, as well as make an extensive string of festival appearances before taking a well-earned break.
Tonight they're back playing a warmup gig in Portsmouth in preparation for their Bestival performance next month, after a year of being away from the touring circuit. And with news of a new album making an appearance next year, it was safe to assume we may be hearing a few new songs tonight.
Choosing to open with two new songs 'Child', which saw its live debut last year, sees a slow moody start and the lights down low creating silhouettes of the band onstage. Singer Orlando Weeks makes use of his double microphone setup, bringing a haunted echo to his fragile vocals. Then suddenly the drums kick in louder and the strobes pulsate as the song leaps into tempo. 'Feel to Follow' continues with this upbeat sound and the gloomy lighting lifts to show the band in full - with the usual extra hair growth that occurs when bands go away to record, with guitarist Felix White and his brother Hugo sport such long glossy manes that I'm sure L’Oreal will be on the phone soon.
A band of few words, Orlando admits they "...might be a little rusty" tonight, and acknowledge the sad situation currently happening in London and the rest of England. In return for opening with two new songs, The Maccabees then play a string of songs from their previous albums; 'Lego', 'First Love', 'One Hand Holding' and 'Can You Give It' which send the fans into a sweaty frenzy, screaming the words at the top of their voices.
More new songs follow 'Pelican' which saw use of the second mic again, and 'Went Away', before back to hits 'William Powers' and 'No Kind Words'. Another new song 'Ayla' follows, before The Maccabees pull a surprise and play their cover of 'Walking In The Air'. We may be a few months off Christmas but the band have ingrained their sound so deeply into this song that it sounds different to the original yet still hauntingly beautiful, so no fear of those Christmas flashbacks of you as a child crying as The Snowman melted.
'Love You Better' is the final song before the encore, part of which sees the audience take the vocals as Orlando loses his composure. And their return brings 'Forever I've Known' which had been debuted at last years Reading & Leeds festivals, but the fans in the crowd already knew all the words. 'Precious Time' has the last singalong of the night, as The Macccabees finish just how they started, by choosing to end with yet another new song 'Grew Up At Midnight'.
There is a definite darker, moodier undertone to the new songs aired tonight, which continues to build from their previous album, rather than hark back to those lighter memories of Colour It In. But I look forward to hearing these songs once again in a few weeks at Bestival, and to the album release next year.
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