Gig Review and Photography by Helen Williams

Maximo Park

Having dipped in and out of Maxïmo Park’s career over the last ten years and having already seen several unbeatable live performances, I was excited to see how they’d evolved since the last time I caught them back in 2010. The Institute is the perfect setting for their typically decadent offering and the room fills up quickly despite the early Friday night start time.

Teleman

Teleman

London four piece Teleman are the sole support tonight. Formed from the remnants of indie band ‘Pete and The Pirates’, they’re fresh to the scene in their new guise and are yet to release their debut. While their sound is interesting enough, they fail to connect fully with the audience. There’s minimal crowd interaction between songs and the band members’ expressionless faces seem to imply they aren’t enjoying themselves either. However, their final number, ‘Steam Train Girl’ is a fantastic glimpse into what they can do, and suddenly captures the attention of the gathering crowd – hopefully we will see more of this brilliance at future gigs.

Maximo Park

On, then, to the main event. Maxïmo Park take to the stage with an extended intro to ‘Give, Get, Take’, a perfect example of their more electronically inclined new tracks, before launching straight into live staple ‘Our Velocity’.

Maximo Park

I’m delighted to see that their performance is as vibrant and fresh as ever, but that they’ve also retained their humble approach, thanking the crowd all the way through the set and still seemingly amazed by how popular they are. As Paul says: “Thanks for coming out to see our little band – we’re still never quite sure if anyone will show up”. But we’ve shown up in droves, and by the time they’re on stage the venue’s groaning at the seams.

Maximo Park

While they are fantastic studio artists, Maxïmo Park really come to life in the live arena. Every band member shines with obvious talent, but there’s no denying that the performance is centred around one man – Paul Smith. Arguably one of the best rock frontmen of the past decade, he leaps across the stage with boundless energy, striking myriad poses and interacting with the crowd with effortless charisma.

Maximo Park

After Paul’s recent emergency eye surgery caused the band to cancel the first two dates on this tour, it’s a relief that it doesn’t affect his performance tonight – on the contrary, he seems to relish jumping around the stage in dark glasses, resembling the forgotten third Blues Brother.

Maximo ParkMaximo Park

It’s his mic-stand twirling, megaphone wielding showmanship that adds sparkle to an already mighty 22 song setlist, including everything from debut album classics (‘Signal and Sign’, ‘Graffiti’, ‘Limassol’), recent hits (‘Give, Get, Take’ , ‘Leave This Island’), and everything in between (‘Books From Boxes’, ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’, ‘Our Velocity’, ‘The Undercurrents’). The demographic of the audience varies wildly from die-hard fans to new listeners, due in no small part to the bands’ constantly evolving sound. And there’s something here for everyone.

Maximo Park

Maxïmo Park are well known as one of the best live acts on the scene, and their performance tonight is honed to perfection. They end on seasoned favourite ‘Apply Some Pressure’ before being coaxed back for the inevitable encore by the greedy crowd. They start with a new track; the gorgeously stripped back ‘Where We’re Going’, swiftly followed by ultimate crowd pleaser ‘Going Missing’.

Maximo Park

After the band exit for the final time, Chicago’s ‘If You Leave Me Now’ rings out across the venue’s PA – whether intentional or brilliantly coincidental, it perfectly echoes the sentiments of the appreciate crowd as we file out, counting the days to the next tour.

(See the complete photo set on our Flick page)

One Response to “Maxïmo Park + Teleman at The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 14th March 2014”

  1. Juliet R Says:

    Great review.I have followed MP since 2005 and what a journey it’s been.A wonderful band with a superb frontman-unequalled in the 21st century,and sadly quite underrated by some.

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