The Liquid Rooms is a fitting venue for tonight’s Maximo Park gig. Back in 2005 when Maximo Park’s debut album A Certain Trigger was released, the nightclub played host to two weekly indie nights, where the band’s dance-floor friendly guitar pop was on heavy rotation, along with the mid noughties diet of Liber-View-Kaiser-Monkey-Killer-Party-tines. Judging by the average age of the audience members tonight, many of them probably swigged Apple VKs and shuffled in Converse on the sweaty dancefloor with your reviewer back in the day.
Now, over a decade and four more albums later, Maximo Park have outlived many of their peers and their particular brand of energetic guitar music can be viewed outside of this context. In many ways, Maximo Park are actually incredibly emo, their sound a catchy punk pop which wears its heart firmly on its sleeve. They have acknowledged this themselves, naming their last album Too Much Information as a reference to their unabashed soul-baring lyrics.
A band that is so ‘totes emosh’, with lyrics so plaintive and pleading (“I sleep with my hands across my chest and dream of you with someone else”, “I’ll do graffiti if you sing to me in French”, “I am young and I am lost”, etc) will always attract new youthful fans, just like Morrissey and the Manics, and they are squeezed up against the barrier tonight, singing every word.
This show is a rescheduled one-off date, not part of a tour, and the band are visibly enjoying playing live again, which can be felt in the audience and feeds into a pre-Christmas party atmosphere, no doubt aided by the Liquid Rooms novel two-pint plastic cups. It is pleasing to be reminded that while their lyrics are romantic and cerebral (and some would say downright pretentious), the band have a very visceral power when playing live. The energy of frontman Paul Smith is quite astounding and contagious. Jumping, pirouetting and occasionally shouting into a megaphone and the faces of those in the front row, he is a brilliant frontman.
Many of the songs they play tonight – Girls Who Play Guitar, Going Missing, Give Get Take – are firm favourites, and the crowd shout the lyrics back at the band. For us oldies, many of the earlier songs are nostalgic reminders of the dancefloors and parties of our late teens and early twenties.
It’s not simply a nostalgia fest though, and the dancing doesn’t stop when they play a new song off their forthcoming album, “about empathy”, apparently. It’s a jerky, robotic number, both awkward and catchy, and it gets a warm welcome from the audience, boding well for fans’ reception of new material.
The musical landscape and trends have certainly changed since their debut was nominated for the Mercury, and the crowds are perhaps not as big as they used to be, but tonight’s sold out show is a joyful celebration of a much-loved band – long may they continue.