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Maximo Park, Albert Hall, Manchester

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For many, the fact that Newcastle’s Maximo Park are still massively active more than ten years since their inception is crazy. While so many bands of their era have either stagnated in to obscurity, or reached the dizzying heights of worldwide renown, theirs is a career of celebrated consistently, of which the 2000 people in attendance this evening are a testament.

Any argument against the band’s current relevancy however, prove unfounded when their most recent album Risk to Exist is brought in to the mix. Far more politicised than their previous records, it’s this material that forms the backbone of tonight’s set, though despite the overt politics of said material being both timely and heartfelt, its sincerity does little to dampen the convivial atmosphere felt inside Manchester’s Albert Hall.

Opening with a double team of new material in the form of ‘What Did We Do To Deserve This?’ and the eponymous ‘Risk To Exist’, it’s clear from the outset that the new material speaks volumes to the band’s fans, as if it’s been a staple of their sets for years and not, in fact, a matter of months.

Of course, while the politics are both welcome and necessary, the inherent romanticism of Maximo Park is what earns them fans, and indeed keeps them coming back. Tonight, it’s present in spades. From long-time favourites like ‘Books From Boxes’ to more recent offerings like ‘Leave This Island’ the band’s ability in extracting beauty from desolation, and in making the mundane appear poetic is second to none.

As they tear through a 20 strong set-list, complete with expected acrobatics and countless “thank yous” from the band’s affable frontman Paul Smith, it’s clear that despite the vastly varied crowd, Maximo Park are a band that bring people together. And though each song might well mean something different to each person present tonight, their importance is impossible to ignore.

As they exit the stage following an energetic airing of ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ those on the Albert Halls wooden balcony begin to stamp their feet in unison, shaking the fixtures and adding to an atmosphere already amplified by the deafening roar that only gets louder as the band return to the stage for a deserved encore.

An impassioned outing for ‘By the Monument kicks things off, followed in quick succession by ‘Apply Some Pressure’ and new track ‘Get High, (No, I Don’t)’, but really, it doesn’t matter what they play. Maximo Park gigs are bigger than the sum of their parts, and the band themselves far bigger than their none-existent ego. And though the new album provides an insight in to their leftist politics, they were a band of the people long before any serious politics entered the equation. And long my they continue to be so. 

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