Maximo Park / Arctic Monkeys / We Are Scientists

Edinburgh Corn Exchange on Sat 28th Jan 2006

By the time I reached the Edinburgh Corn Exchange the queue had rounded the corner of the venue and was making its ascent on the adjacent street. Although this was a tour showcasing the best in new music from a collection of bands it was difficult not to get the impression that the majority of these people were here for one reason.

Brandishing belts of catchy guitar pop taken from their fantastic album ‘With love and Squalor’ We are Scientists are creating the same style of music as Stellastar and Editors have recently been bringing to the charts. Except that they’ve cranked it up a notch and have honed a sound full of dance worthy guitar hooks and bass lines.

The American three piece are the only band on tonight’s bill to come from foreign soil, but they looked more at home than anyone else. From the stomping ‘Can’t lose’ right the way through to last years simple but catchy ‘The Great Escape’ We are Scientists performed like they had been in the business for years, even if they look more like nerdy schoolboys than seasoned rock stars.

It’s easy to tell why We are Scientists are such a big hit over here but have barely made a name for themselves in their home nation. Their sound has a very British ring to it, almost as if they had fused Bloc Party’s tight drumming patterns with Editors melodious guitar, resulting in a style of music that rivals The Music and Franz Ferdinand for the best indie/rock music to dance to.

New single ‘It’s a hit’ and album opener ‘Nobody move, nobody get hurt’ were the set highlights. This is great danceable guitar pop from one of the best bands around at the moment.

I’m not entirely certain if it boils down to overwhelming confidence or just plain arrogance in order to play your first, and only two singles right at the start of a performance. For most bands it would be a sure fire way of reaching a premature climax and alienating half of the audience for the rest of the set. However, most bands can’t brag about their first two singles sitting complacently on the top shelf of HMV next to a number signifying their position at the right end of the charts, whilst there album threatens to become a sell out.

Most bands can’t claim to be the most exciting and promising artist to shake the music industry in years either. Hailing from Sheffield, a town famous for Steel works, a film about a bunch of out of work strippers and a one armed drummer, the Arctic Monkeys are the new darlings of the music press and subsequently are the reason why most of us have a black and white photo of an anonymous bloke smoking a fag on our coffee table.

Being a self confessed cynic I’d love to ramble on about how much of a shambles the Arctic Monkeys are on stage and that the overwhelming hype is as unjustified as Pete Doherty’s impending jail sentence, but I really can’t.

“So who’s that girl there...’ sings lead singer Alex Turner on the opening few bars of ‘When the sun goes down’ or ‘Scummy’ if you’re a traditionalist pretending you were there from the very start. He didn’t need to bother singing anything else as the crowd burst into chorus and the drab atmosphere-less cavern that is The Edinburgh Corn Exchange burst into what can only be described as a massive party.

Then lots of things all started happening at once, a girl fainted, a speaker tried to collapse on the crowd who swarmed left and right without any sense of direction whatsoever and some chap took it upon himself to start climbing the ceiling supports. All the way through Turner commanded the stage, strutting around with a confidence that repudiates his youthful appearance.

Straight into indie pub/club/bar/Supermarket anthem ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’ and it didn’t look like this set was ever going to lose steam. It wouldn’t really matter what they played. Those at the back of the crowd danced, those in the middle of the crowd moshed and danced and those at the front would have quite happily done either if they weren’t being squashed by the dancers and moshers behind them.

‘The view from the afternoon’ kept up the party vibe, with its rolling drums and brilliant distorted chord progression. One of the main appeals of The Arctic Monkeys is their ability to create a fantastic pop song, with brilliant lyrics and simplistic tunes. The rest of the set included ‘You probably couldn’t see me for the lights but you were staring straight at me’, ‘dancing shoes’, ‘perhaps vampires is a bit strong’ and fan favourite ‘fake tales of San Francisco’. The absence of the superb ‘mardy bum’ was a surprise.

Turner took the opportunity to change the lyrics of ‘perhaps vampires is a bit strong’ to ‘all you people are sheep’; a possible reference to the army of fans apparently jumping on the Arctic Monkeys bandwagon at the moment.

Most of the crowd must have been wondering why The Arctic Monkeys weren’t headlining. The job of following them was given to Maximo Park. I was reminded of Manchester’s MOVE Festival in 2004 where Stereophonics were headlining above The Pixies. The bar soon became the place to be. The atmosphere was that of a party that had once been great, but all the important people had left and you were now stuck talking to some boring bloke about which is the best Star Wars film.

It’s not that Maximo Park were bad, it was just that following the Arctic Monkeys is like trying to follow Michael Schumacher around Monte Carlo in a Robin Reliant. It’s not going to turn out well no matter how hard you try. The crowd were largely unresponsive, which was a shame because Maximo Park were thoroughly entertaining. Their keyboard player would occasionally drift off on mad spasm attacks, and prance across the stage in a sort of epileptic drumming fit before forgetting where he left his instrument. Lead singer Paul Smith is as flamboyant and energetic as you want from a front man and seemed far more appreciative of the response than any of the other bands on tonight’s bill.

Kicking off with ‘Grafitti’ it looked like Maximo Park might open with their singles as well, but they decided to opt for the more conventional method of staggering their most popular songs. Not much was left off their debut album ‘A certain trigger’. The new single ‘I want you to stay’ was as limp and uninspiring live as it is on record. The highlight was ‘Apply some pressure’ which was the only song that really got the crowd going. I even saw a small portion of the crowd leave after that song. ‘Signal and sign’ and ‘Gone missing’ were the other two songs that really stood out, with the latter closing the show.

Despite Maximo Park’s friendly and charming nature the night belonged to The Arctic Monkeys and the stir they created. However, We are Scientists were equally impressive and will definitely be a band to look out for in 2006.

article by: Scott Johnson

published: 31/01/2006 12:05


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.