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- Rock City, Nottingham »
Although their latest album Quicken The Heart slipped out into the shops last week pretty much unnoticed, you'd think Maximo Park were one of the biggest bands in the world judging by the clamour for tickets on this long sold-out tour. Even though tour support (and arguably bigger commercially at this moment in time) The Noisettes are conspicuous by their unannounced absence, the venue is jam-packed long before Paul Smith and co. take to the stage.
One of the main facets around Maximo Park has always been about their live show; largely unpredictable, but relentless and consistent all the same, while in Smith, they undoubtedly possess one of the best frontmen to grace a stage this past decade. Its also beneficial to have a vast catalogue of songs to do themselves justice with, and 2005's A Certain Trigger in particular contains no shortage of rabble-rousing crowd pleasers.
Ultimately though, that could prove to be their downfall in the long term as despite the non-stop torrent of energy and enthusiasm flowing from the stage from start to finish, the chasm in quality between the earlier and more recent material is as wide as the Gulf of Mexico, something which even the initially vociferous throng pick up on, judging by the increasingly lacklustre reception each subsequent newbie receives.
While there is the argument that the band have at least attempted to develop their sound, not to mention steer their songwriting talents towards a more poppier domain, the overall impact is akin to losing a limb or at best a tooth. 'Graffiti' and 'The Night I Lost My Head' still sound as proficient and exciting as they did four years ago, while 'Our Velocity' and 'Your Urge' ably demonstrate why occasionally (and wrongly) maligned second album Our Earthly Pleasures remains something of an unfashionably guilty pleasure.
After an hour, the band depart and return for an encore, at which point the diminutive frontman's insistence that the band will be playing two new ones followed by an old one is met with a sea of groans. That one of those more recent compositions, the pedestrian 'That Beating Heart' is as-yet unreleased, doesn't bode well for album number four, and parity, of a kind, is only restored by the frantic rush of 'Apply Some Pressure' bringing the evening's entertainment to a close.
As a live band, Maximo Park still have an awful lot to offer. The real quandary appears to be one of writer's block, as it would surely take something of a Horrors-style revival for album number four for the next round of dates to sell out in record time based on this evidence.
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