Airing new material
The Maccabees - Live at Village Underground, London

The Maccabees just keep coming back. Two years have passed since ‘Wall of Arms’ was released, and it’s as though fans have been holding their breath in anticipation since 2009. The air of excitement is palpable at Village Underground: an intimate venue, buzzing and packed to the rafters. It seems the perfect place to house the raucous indie rock that The Maccabees are famed for.

The band is met with a welcoming cheer as they take their places on stage. The audience hushes and stills, preparing to be taken by the first song like a champagne cork ready to pop. Bathed in cool blue light, the band begins to play ‘Child’ - a track from their forthcoming album ‘Given to the Wild’. An anti-climactic sigh escapes the audience, disappointed that their anticipation is met by lyrics they do not know. Another new song ‘Feel to Follow’ sounds beautiful, but each guitarist moves awkwardly and nervously with the concentration required to play these new songs perfectly. It is hard to believe that they are nearing the end of this tour; The Maccabees seem rusty.

Suddenly the thrashing guitar of ‘Lego’ fills our ears and the audience explodes with satisfaction. Orlando Weeks’ familiar warbling is met by a thousand amateur voices and once again they are as one, arms pumping the air to a familiar beat. Straight into ‘First Love’, ‘One Hand Holding’ and ‘Can You Give It’. Those tracks that have been played so many times before give the gig a momentum that catapults it into ‘Pelican’ - a new song, which is greeted by more enthusiasm than those before it.

In swathes of red light, Hugo White hammers out powerful, rhythmic chords that are reminiscent of an 80s pop song. The dynamic is changed by a delicately slow middle eight before White’s punching begins once more. As is to be expected of The Maccabees’ work, the lyrics are repetitive yet affective when coupled with Sam Doyle’s sharp rhythm.

‘No Kind Words’ has the audience chanting in unison like a religious sect, deep in worship and ‘Precious Time’ is heavy with meaning. After all, what have The Maccabees been doing if not taking their precious time? The song’s poignancy rings true as Weeks sings “Let’s make time work for us”. It seems an age since ‘Wall of Arms’ and that time has clearly been spent perfecting their deeper, darker sound.

Finally an encore of ‘X-Ray’ and frantic guitar catapults the audience into another bout of frenzied dancing. A brave crowd surfer is tossed to the front as the gig draws to a close.

This high energy performance has paid off and the band now looks self-assured, cohesive and comfortable on stage. Their work here is done, but we can’t help feeling that this is just the beginning.

Words by Becci Ride
Photos by Matt Wash

For a photo gallery of the night, click HERE.

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