The Maccabees

* * * * -

The Maccabees deliver a career-spanning set full of passion and intensity, emphasising their evolution into a complex and mature rock band.

Image of The Maccabees

@ Barrowlands, Glasgow, on Fri 15 Jan 2016

With each album, The Maccabees have gradually taken their luminous indie pop roots and developed them into a deeper, darker, more textured sound. Their evolution into a complex, mature rock band was finally realised with Marks To Prove It, their fourth and most successful album to date, released in July last year. It therefore seems appropriate that the Barrowlands stage is slightly crowded tonight with additional percussion, keyboard and brass players, allowing the five-piece to flesh out their now fuller sound and deliver a career-spanning set full of passion, intensity and drive.

They kick things off with the title track of their most recent album, Marks To Prove It, a song which highlights their sound progression more than any other. It is a dramatic opener, its unpredictability brought to life with thrashing guitars, playful riffs and roaring climaxes, as flashes of strobe lighting add to the excitement of the crowd.

On the new material, Orlando Weeks’ voice is sounding better than ever as he soars over the atmospheric Kamakura followed by a smooth take on Ribbon Road, a song which possesses a wonderful slow-building power. However, he is perhaps most impressive on Spit It Out, a song which he begins quietly before letting go on the huge chorus; it is perhaps the angriest song from the band to date, with Orlando’s vocal delivery at its most defiant.

Tonight is not just a celebration of the new album though; the band delve into their back catalogue quite a few times, much to the excitement of the crowd. Love You Better, Wall Of Arms and Precious Time get suitably rousing reactions, with the latter providing a mass singalong. X-Ray from debut album Colour It In is a surprise inclusion, and is bolstered by the extra performers on stage; its jangly indie-pop highlights just how far the band have come since the release of their debut in 2007.

The new sense of cohesiveness to the band’s sound translates brilliantly live with their ability to bring light and shade to their performance ensuring that the audience are never left bored. It’s hard to think of a band who sound tighter when playing live together; they spent most of 2015 on the road perfecting their set and it has definitely paid off. This is best shown as their main set draws to a close. From the frantic youthful exuberance of X-Ray, we are thrust into the dark and menacing No Kind Words, before being treated to the melancholic atmospherics of Grew Up at Midnight and then finally closing with the euphoric Something Like Happiness.

The four-song encore goes down exceptionally well, particularly fan favourite Toothpaste Kisses and Pelican, the latter bringing the set to a storming finale. Orlando points out that the last time the band were in Glasgow they were supporting Kasabian and didn’t receive a great reception. However, there is no danger of that happening tonight; it is a fairly polite crowd for Glasgow on a Friday night but nevertheless, each song is treated to a massive cheer.

The Maccabees emerged at a time when landfill indie was rife. However, their ability to consistently evolve with each album and tour has ensured that, ten years on, they have outlasted many of their peers, and deservedly so.