Close to perfection
The Maccabees - Live At Alexandra Palace, London

Even the gale force winds didn't stop ticket holders marching up through North London and up the hill to Alexandra Palace on Friday. Wedged in between an extensive UK tour and a busy summer of festivals, Friday's gig seemed like a minor blip in The Maccabees' hectic schedule, but that didn't prevent them from pulling out all the stops, and putting on a cracking show for the windswept crowd. The huge success of their third album 'Given To The Wild', released last year, has finally given them a well-deserved breakthrough and the audience proved it in their masses. “It's quite full,” remarked lead singer Orlando Weeks, sounding surprised, “there's a lot of you here.”

The Maccabees strolled on to a blue-tinged stage and headed straight into their first track 'Child' from their latest album, each of the lads lit up in yellow as Weeks waved his spirit-fingers to the beat, the vast hall at Ally Pally, still flooded in day-light, providing a glorious back-drop of ornate architecture and industrial staging. 'Feel to Follow' was next, showcasing an effortless transition from sway-inducing melodies to speedy, bouncy riffs. They tore their way through tracks, past and present, and, much to the crowd's delight, played favourites 'First Love', 'Toothpaste Kisses' and 'Love You Better' and left them to sing a chorus on their own in 'Precious Time'. Nearing the end of the set they threw in a delightful rendition of 'About Your Dress', mixing the last verse with some lines from 'Latchmere'.

From a camera at the back of the stage, three screens provided a mirror for the audience, and as the sun set, it shone through the circular stained-glass window, like a halo above the band. In fact, all of the lighting in the set corresponded with the general mood of the music: blood red glows for speedy songs and electric blue and purple for the mellower tracks whilst the three screens flashed black and white images lashed with strobe effects.

The band were tight throughout, obviously enjoying the lavish attention adorned upon them by screaming fans. They had presence on the stage as a unit, the guitar playing White brothers thrashed around Weeks as his exquisite, raw vocal was echoed by the crowd, particularly good in 'Pelican', where he sang into two mics to create the echoing effect we've all heard on the record. Apologising for it being the final track of the night, Weeks insisted: “There has to be a last song...otherwise it never ends,” which it seemed, would not have been a problem with any of the fans. His sincerity was smashed, though, as they arrived back on stage after a few minutes, with fresh beers, for a four track encore complete with a green laser light show, where Weeks' flamboyant arm and hand movements hypnotised the crowd to copy him until he controlled them like little Pinocchios in vintage jumpers.

Whilst it may only have been their most recent album which has pulled them into the success circle of the charts, Friday showed The Maccabees at their best, crowd-pleasing with their set list, energetic with their stage presence and close to perfect with the end result.

Words by Lolly Doyle
Photo by Helen F. Kennedy

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

Join us on VERO

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.

Follow Clash: