More pop perfectionists learn to lighten up and reap the rewards
The last time The Maccabees hit Newcastle, it was sandwiched into the monumentally raucous clash of egos that was the O2 NME Rock’N’Roll Riot Tour. Amid Horrific hand painting, broken drumkits and noses, and tension so thick you’d have problems cutting it with a chainsaw, Brighton’s wide-eyed noir poppers kept a low profile. Onstage they were boundless energy chained by over-serious professionalism and wrapped up in a blanket of nerves. This time, with a long-awaited album under their belts and no Fratellis in sight, perhaps things will be different.
Before playtime can commence though, Kent’s melody makers GoodBooks are here to win over the crowd with a bucketful of dreamy Orange Juice-inspired shoegazer wist-pop. This they do effortlessly with the likes of the fragile and beautiful ‘Turn It Back’. Latest single ‘Leni’, a forlorn love song that would bring a tear to Robert Smith’s extravagantly lined eye, leaves a palpable quiver in the air.
Taking to the stage to a cacophony of wolf whistles, tonight’s headliners still look bashful. Launching into ‘Latchmere’, singer Orlando’s vocals quiver with emotion above the growling new wave basslines echoing through the bowels of the building. It’s their quintessentially English sound, dripping with both ‘Village Green’ charm and ‘Hatful Of Hollow’ lovelorn self-deprecation that makes these five wunderkinder as endearing tonight as they are exciting.
It’s a more self-assured, giving band in front of us, clearly in love with the world and cherishing every minute; and with this room as a gauge, the world loves them back. “You’ve got better voices than any other audience on the tour,” beams Orlando after the joyous singalong chorus of penultimate song and bedroom classic-in-waiting ‘First Love’. Although it bursts with passion, the band have wriggled free of its lyrical pessimism, instead bathing in the catharsis of the performance. When making the album, their aim was to recreate “the best live show people have ever seen” and tonight they showcase the perfect record. Depression is so last year. So smile, The Maccabees come bearing not only their hearts, but hope on their sleeves.