The Maccabees / Derek Meins / Laura Marling / Talk Taxis

Carling Academy, Birmingham on Sun 7th Oct 2007

Approaching a venue and observing who is waiting to go in is often a good indicator of what kind of evening you’re in for. And sure enough the tight bright blue trousers and tight tops or check shirts with white dap-like trainers, the indie-kids’ ‘uniform’, indicated an evening of music that was not going to breakaway and providing anything particularly original.

The support acts were as much of a walking-cliché as the indie kids themselves with Talk Taxis going down like a musical cul-de-sac as they struggled to get their music heard over people’s conversations. A standard four-piece band, it was like they had opened the door to their grungy garage and let us view them play when really that door should have stayed firmly shut and the garage preferably sound-proofed! Their music was so bad I was more interested in his ‘I am Kloot’ t-shirt and coming up with a more appropriate ‘I am...’ for him...first suggestion; ‘I am uncharismatic’.

"there were those who would literally fall out of the end zone of the audience drenched and looking battered but with beaming smiles on their faces."
Secondly, Laura Marling came on stage and from a teenage band's garage we entered the world of folk as the lead singer walked on with country-girl blonde hair and a Minnie Mouse jumper, accompanied by her band consisting of banjos and accordions. Whilst her music was not particularly catchy or interesting and appeared to be a case of another band riding the ‘Arcade Fire’ inspired wave of folk becoming popular in the mainstream world of ‘indie’, it was a welcome relief to the ears. Despite my initial scepticism, her cute charm warmed the audience as she recognised a mass student demographic, asking us all how fresher’s week was. Given the appeal of this pleasant little set and the power of hindsight I would have chosen to listen to her for much longer if it meant not having to endure Derek Meins, the third support act (strange for a gig that did not suggest any support acts!).

A one-piece guitar artist, his screamed opening accompanied by lyrics such as ‘we’ve come to the conclusion, he’s experiencing delusions’ and a song devoted entirely to ‘f*cking’ and orgasm sounds meant yes, we did come to the conclusion you're experiencing delusions and was glad when he finally left the stage.

After this ordeal of support acts, when The Maccabees finally entered the stage they drowned out a miserable opener to a dimly lit stage and Hugo White’s Eminem-like look made me worry if I’d wasted my evening. However, their second song ‘X-ray’ brought the place alive and the indie kids were raised into a clapping storm and prepared themselves to enter into the ‘battle’ that was, the mosh-pit! It is fair to say this high was maintained throughout the show, it was a very fast-paced set with minimal gaps, almost as though they were afraid of losing the atmosphere they had created. As an art-form it was interesting since their songs are all fairly similar, excellent beat from the awesome drumming of Robert Dylan Thomas and great guitar riffs. By playing all the songs so continuously made it like one extended song with a brief and well executed breather in the form of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’.

There was a moment early on when the lights were quite yellow and Orlando Weeks, lead singer, stood on the drum stage and orchestrated a sea of clapping. Maybe I was just experiencing my own ‘delusions’ but it was a Sunday and watching the gig from the outskirts was amazing to see a room full of arms raised and clapping. The audience flailed their arms in a way not too dissimilar to new wave Christian community church congregations. Clearly Weeks was working his divine powers on the audience as ‘All in your rows’ and ‘Latchmere’ caused a mass numbers of bodies to surf over the crowd, like he had a magnetic power. So much so, he managed to end up with a pair of knickers on his head, oh the life of being in a band!

At no point was this incredible atmosphere more pertinent than during ‘Precious Time’, a personal highlight, as it was impossible to see anybody’s arms and hands down by their side as people soaked up the message. If I was incredibly cynical I could have seen this gig as a pure mosh-pit pleasing exercise and sure enough there were those who would literally fall out of the end zone of the audience drenched and looking battered but with beaming smiles on their faces. But I think more than that, The Maccabees managed to create a performance that captivated the whole of the Carling Academy and the test of their success will be their ability to mature and demonstrate a greater depth to their song making. It is a challenge I look forward to seeing if they achieve.

article by: Robert Doble

published: 16/10/2007 01:48


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