The Maccabees

Alexandra Palace, London, June 8th

Dan Kendall/NME
Photo: Dan Kendall/NME
"I wasn’t even sure initially if it was a good idea,” mumbles Orlando Weeks, clutching a much-needed glass of wine and giving a look that falls somewhere between fretful and bemused. “I can’t explain it. It’s like, the idea of it was beyond me…” Twenty minutes prior to speaking these words, the singer and his fellow Maccabees ended the biggest headline date of their careers with a jubilantly climactic double whammy of ‘Precious Time’ (mini moshpits, manic dancing, lots of chanting) and ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ (just completely fucking epic), buoyed by a supporting cast of 10,000 fans singing back every word. It was A Moment, but try telling him that. “I spent the whole time desperately trying not to forget the lyrics and ruin it because everyone there seemed to be having a good time,” he laughs/sighs. Truth is, The Maccabees could have played their shopping list and everybody would have been on board.

While Alexandra Palace is undoubtedly a mammoth space and a career milestone, the people here know every lovelorn lyric and every taut guitar riff – and every ‘Toothpaste’’d whistle proves this band have earned their spot. As the twinkles of ‘Given To The Wild (Intro)’ give way to the undulating shimmer of ‘Child’, the quartet (plus touring member Will White) sound every bit the arena-sized band – not in an overblown, bombastic way, but because that many layers and that much heart needs this kind of space to fully unfurl. The spikier angles of their earlier output – from a joyous run-through of ‘First Love’ to the brooding bass of ‘No Kind Words’ – provide many of the evening’s giddier thrills, allowing cuts from ‘Given To The Wild’ to flicker around them, soaring equally as high but in a subtler direction.

‘Heave’ (given its first live outing tonight) burns slowly and delicately around twinkling fretwork and fragile croons while ‘Forever I’ve Known’’s dusky guitar bends could fill spaces twice this size and still sound intimate. ‘Latchmere’ gets a reworking, segueing midway into an acoustic, slowed down ‘About Your Dress’ with Orlando’s vocal moving from Dylan-esque throaty hum to full-on frenetic howl, while ‘Love You Better’ and ‘Pelican’ are pure crowd-pleasing gems. They’d never admit it, but tonight it’s clear The Maccabees have quietly become one of the best and most beloved bands in the UK. Kind words all round, then.
Lisa Wright

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