Maximo Park

Maximo Park

Jack Daniel's JD Roots, The Cluny, Newcastle, Thursday May 2

Going back to your roots can be a good thing, particularly if you haven’t dyed your hair in a while, and it’s Maximo Park’s turn to go back to theirs tonight at Newcastle’s much-loved small venue The Cluny. For the quintet, it’s a chance to show fans they’ve lost none of the fire that brought them fame in 2005. The stage is tiny, but the atmosphere’s huge.

“The setlist is in tatters,” says frontman Paul Smith while holding up what looks like a ripped napkin. It’s been destroyed by heat and sweat. Two songs in and everyone’s already wondering how Smith manages to keep that bowler hat on his head as he pulls off his scissor-kicks. The hat stays intact, but as the night progresses other items of clothing aren’t so lucky. It’s been an unusually sunny day in the northeast and Smith’s layers are feverishly lost. The tie is ripped from his throat when the riff from ‘Graffiti’ slams into action. Then the blazer comes off to ‘Books From Boxes’, which is played so loud the speakers crackle. Even his shirt is nearly ripped off midway through ‘Apply Some Pressure’ as he sings “you know that I would love to see you undress“.

Smith doesn’t need to strip to impress a crowd, they all clearly adore how his tunes sound in this teeny venue anyway. ‘A19’ gets a rare airing and goes down a storm with the hometown fans, as does ‘By The Monument’, named after the statue of Earl Grey just metres down the road. “Is everyone still alright?” he asks through a megaphone, before going temporarily deaf in the encore. “Me and Beethoven are in the same club,” he jokes, but he doesn’t need to sing any more – the crowd are doing it for him.

Simon Butcher