Last night (December 14), The Maccabees headed to Norwich Arts Centre to play a special, intimate show to crown the space the winner of 2014’s campaign to find Britain’s Best Small Venue by NME in association with Jack Daniel’s.
Over the band’s 75-minute set, they played tracks from their first three albums as well as previewing four new tracks from their upcoming fourth album, including ‘Kamakura’ and ‘WW1 Portraits’.
Before the second pair of new songs to be aired in the set, ‘Marks To Prove It’, frontman Orlando Weeks told the crowd: “It’s almost proof our absence hasn’t been misspent, we’ve got the marks to prove it – there’s a pun in there.”
Weeks also made reference to the difference in size of the Arts Centre compared to the venues they’d been playing while supporting Kasabian on their arena tour, saying: “This is a bit of a change from the last month, so it might take a while to find our feet.”
Fans who gained entry to the 250-capacity venue were treated to old favourites like ‘First Love’ and ‘Precious Time’ amongst the new material, while guitarist Felix White took the opportunity mid-set to applaud a group at the front of the crowd who had been coming to see the band since their early tours.
The Maccabees brought the main body of their set to a close with renditions of ‘No Kind Words’ and ‘Pelican’, before leaving the stage for the first time.
After a brief pause, the quintet – joined by a pianist for the gig – returned to play a three-song encore, including ‘William Powers’ and ‘Toothpaste Kisses’. The latter saw the audience joining in with Weeks’ whistled middle eight.
The south London band then brought the tiny show to a close with ‘Grew Up At Midnight’, taken from their third album ‘Given To The Wild’, before thanking the crowd for their patience while they’ve been holed up in the studio.
NME Editor Mike Williams explained the importance of the campaign, saying: “There’s never been a more important time to celebrate our small gig spaces, as many are under threat of closure. Without small venues, music will become beige.”
Speaking to NME before the show, Orlando Weeks explained what makes small venues so special. “You play places like this and they are all completely different [to each other]. It’s those quirks and eccentricities that make them special and memorable gigs. I already feel like the last month [supporting Kasabian on their arena tour] has become a bit of a blur but I’ll remember this one.”