On the 23rd January 2016, The Maccabees played the third of three shows at the O2 Academy, Brixton. This was part of the second leg of their UK tour, which started late last year, in support of their latest release “Marks to Prove it” (released last summer). The set was filled with songs from all four of their albums. They were supported by London’s, all-female-quartet, “The Big Moon” (who were amazing too).
The set opened with “Marks to Prove it” from their latest album (of the same name). It was an interesting way to start the set as many people were familiar with it as a song, due to its radio coverage as a single, and it geared the fans, both old and new alike, up for an hugely diverse skim through the expansive back catalogue the band has to offer. Arguably a brave move due to its coverage as some fans may have come on the basis of that song.
This being said, they also played other songs from “Marks to Prove it”, including “Kamakura”, “Spit it Out” and “Something Like Happiness”. It was a treat hearing these songs live as the latest album is so different to some of their earlier releases. Their latest album was so incredible as an release due to its melancholic undertones and powerful lyrics and that emotion really came through when hearing it live. Songs like “Something Like Happiness” work extremely well in venues like this as you can hear the emotion and rawness in Weeks’ voice. I saw The Maccabees play Reading Festival last year, when the album was quite new, so it was a contrast, in both mood and acoustics, to their Brixton set, but nonetheless fascinating to hear the development of the album through touring over the last few months.
They also played songs from their older albums, like “X-Ray”, “Feel to Follow” and “Love You Better”. They flicked between old and new material flawlessly and the cuts between albums were welcomed by fans. The atmosphere was electric when they played songs from their debut album “Colour it in”. The highlight of the set, for me, was when the band played “Precious Time” and “Latchmere”, both songs contrast their more recent, seemingly deeper, song styles. The audience were encouraged to dance by Hugo White. When “Precious Time” was played the audience sang and danced in waves. Before “Latchmere” was played Weeks reflected on the album artwork and spoke about it’s significance as a place they passed everyday without seeing it’s real beauty- “it’s a very long introduction to a very old song”- like that of Latchemere’s leisure centre (especially focused on the fact that “Latchmere’s got a wave machine”). The song saw most of the audience, who remained seated for the most part, stood up singing and dancing. It’s an incredibly fun song which never fails to excite a crowd.
The band were accompanied on stage by a pianist, a trumpeter and a percussion player. Each played an important part in the set up and construction of many of the songs in their latter material. These members were in turn introduced by the band and were met with a roar of applause from the audience (they were appreciated by band and audience alike). They added an extra element to the set allowing it to be enjoyed in more depth and in a similar way to that of the album and recorded material.
The stage design and set-up was simplistic with the band dotted around the stage. The lighting was sympathetic to the songs, as you’d expect. The backdrop featured the album artwork for “Marks to Prove it” and, during some parts of the set, light bulbs were lit on stage suspended from above. There was a line of lights behind the band which provided focused light onto the band. The simple set-up made the set feel more personal as it wasn’t overly fussy or eccentric (which could have easily in danger of distracting from the band’s polished performance if either of these things).
The Maccabees played a four song encore consisting of “River Song”, “WWI Portraits”, “Toothpaste Kisses” and “Pelican”. “River Song” and “WWI Portraits” are from the latest album, whereas “Toothpaste Kisses” and “Pelican” were older, traditional favourites to close the set. Orlando Weeks opened with “Toothpaste Kisses” by himself before being joined by the rest of the band. I always associate The Maccabees with this song so it was extremely exciting for me to hear this live (it was the first song of theirs I ever heard)! “Pelican” had everyone up on their feet and dancing as the night drew to a close. The band played their last few bars to a euphony of applause and cheers and the band thanked the audience and the touring members afterwards.
The Maccabees triumphantly conquered the final of three nights of headline gigs at the Brixton Academy with adoring and loyal fans (of staggering ages, there were very young ones and older people) flocking to see the band and bid farewell to end of the Marks to Prove it era, an era of incredible support in support of great music. The show was a reflection on the last few months and it was amazing to experience the last of their UK shows with the album with them.