Wednesday 25 April 2007

Maximo Park, Rock City

It’s Maximo Park tonight but I don’t want to be too late for the gig because I want to see some of the support band. It’s Art Brut.

Art Brut are a very odd band on record and seemingly even odder live. They make songs poking fun at people who form bands just to be cool or to get famous or simply take rock n roll too seriously. For some reason they particularly dislike the Velvet Underground. Art Brut, of course, claim they are only in it to enjoy themselves and make music.

On their album ‘Bang Bang Rock n Roll’ their front-man, a chap called Eddie Argos, sings but usually rants about other things as well, mainly his lack of success with women and when he finally does have some success, his impotence problems.

They are a band where you really need to hear what the lead singer is singing and tonight because of our position, to one side of the stage; we could only make out portions of the lyrics. It was a good spot to watch from but not so good for listening.

Tonight he seems to dispense with the singing completely and instead berates his audience like a man stoned on something. Most of the songs ended in a lot of chanting and adlibbing. Is he on something or is that just him? Argos was constantly at play with the crowd and with the songs, constantly messing with the lyrics. Which is fine if you know the songs but not so good if you don't. On "Emily Kane" he even offered an update on a meeting with Ms. Kane. Then he appended "Leaving on a Jet Plane" to "Moving to L.A."

An interesting performance but slightly disappointing too. One of their best songs was wasted when he merged "We Formed a Band" into "Bad Weekend" at the end. Then he tells the audience that they must go home and form a band. He threatens to check that they all do, he says he will come back to Nottingham and track them all down to check.

The crowd love it all. Argos has everybody in the room chanting "Art Brut, Top of the Pops", which eventually becomes "Maximo Park, Top of the Pops".

And so to Maximo Park and the all action figure that is Paul Smith.

Tonight he somersaults his way around the stage dressed as Alex from Clockwork Orange while the rest of the band seem happy to leave him to it. His actions contrast with the rock solid stance of the bass player, who looks decidedly lost. The Keyboard player is the most animated of the rest; he staggers around, seemingly having shared the shame spliff as the Mr Argos.

The guitarist turns out to be from Derby, which causes a chorus of boos.

I must admit that I have been a little disappointed with the new album. The record seems to be essentially more of the same but perhaps with a little less of the punch of their debut. It’s an album that’s perhaps more notable for its lyrical content (and possibly the oddness of them) than its tunes. So really I should love it. As Paul would say “When it comes to girls I'm mostly hypothetical, When it comes to girls I'm truly theoretical”. Whatever that means. Tonight however the new stuff really wins me over.

Opener Graffiti gets somehow lost in the commotion and the sound system but the next three tracks ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’, 'All Over The Shop' and 'Our Velocity' all sound great.

The band kick out each song the same with urgency and exuberance. Most of which are sung back with gusto by the packed and equally exuberant crowd. Every track is preceded by a long heavily accented introduction, which I rarely manage to catch much of.

‘Apply Some Pressure’ goes down an absolute storm, although it’s a bit muffled from where we are. They get a five minute long ovation for it and the band applaud the crowd back. The music seems to matter to the band and they seem surprised and extremely grateful for the way they are adored by their public.

'Gone Missing' closes an excellent set in storming style. They return to play 'Kiss You Better', 'Unshockable' and something that may have been ‘Limassol’.

No 'Acrobat', although I wasn't sure how effective that would have been live and no 'Just A Glimpse' which is a great shame.

Top band. Top gig. Even L says it was her favourite gig.

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