The ex-Smith proves his greatness on a spiky live album
Alexandra Palace, London, June 8th
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.
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