The Maccabees @ Albert Hall, Manchester 19/01/16

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Photo by Amy McCulley

Oxford band Foals are perhaps the only band who can match The Maccabees’ impact and success as a British indie outfit in the past decade. Both have ably demonstrated their ability to gather a loyal following while consistently producing new material with a new sound that keeps the critics as happy as the fans.

‘Marks To Prove It’ was an album for which anticipation amongst fans had reached fever pitch upon its release in May 2015. It was originally scheduled to hit the shelves in January 2014 but was delayed by over a year after frontman Orlando Weeks spoke to NME. In the interview he explained: “We haven’t really come across the songs that set the mood or tone of this record yet. We’re kind of shooting in the dark”. The band spent three years at a studio, in their home of South London, working on their fourth LP after the release of its predecessor: 2012’s ‘Given To The Wild’. The Maccabees have since explained that the album was written to serve as an ode to the area of South London commonly known as Elephant and Castle. They are noticeably affected by having to watch the place they once called home being bulldozed and transformed into a construction site and witnessing their neighbours become the victims of gentrification. Marks To Prove It provided a handful of powerfully written songs such as it’s title track and the ardent ‘Spit It Out’ which captured the emotion of the subject perfectly.

On Tuesday, The Maccabees took to the stage of Manchester’s Albert Hall for a second sold-out night at the historic venue. Met by thunderous applause, they wave to the crowd in front of the stage and around the balcony which lines the stone walls and stained glass windows. The opener of their set is the eponymous Marks To Prove It. In a blur of guitar pedals and barrelling drums, guitarist Felix White’s spine-tingling yell is greeted by hysteria. With a big grin on his face as he moves around the stage, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Felix for the frontman. It’s not until the first verse, when a subdued Orlando Weeks steps up to the mic in his collared shirt and jumper and exhibits his sublime vocal ability that his stage presence is truly felt.

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Photo by Amy McCulley

The calm after the storm comes when the five-piece plays Given To The Wild’s ‘Feel To Follow’ and the namesake of their 2009 album ‘Wall Of Arms’; two slower-paced, more pop-centric songs which allow the hyped up Manchester crowd a few minutes’ respite. And not to mention, more opportunity for frontman Orlando to wow the crowd with his blissful vocals.

The Maccabees have never really been the type for showmanship and theatrics. Even when put on stage with rowdy South London troubadour Jamie T at Glastonbury. But nevertheless, the five-piece play their way through an extended set, complete with encore, with admirable enthusiasm and vigour.

Set list:

Marks To Prove It

Feel To Follow

Wall Of Arms

Kamakura

Ribbon Road

Love You Better

Young Lions

Precious Time

Can You Give It

Spit It Out

Silence

Latchmere

X-Ray

No Kind Words

Grew Up

Something Like Happiness

River Song

WW1 Portraits

Toothpaste Kisses

Pelican

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