Brixton Academy - 3.10.2009For those of you who don't know much about The Maccabees, a band who last Saturday played their biggest and most triumphant London show to date, allow me to fill you in. Based in Brighton but originating from South London, the five-piece consists of Orlando Weeks (vocals/guitar), Hugo White (guitar), Felix White (backing vocals and guitar, brother of Hugo), Rupert Jarvis (bass) and Sam Doyle (drums). After releasing their debut album Colour It In in 2007, the band gathered a loyal following of fans and received moderate critical acclaim thanks to songs that ranged from gentle and melodic (Toothpaste Kisses, Precious Time) to upbeat and infectious (Latchmere, X-Ray).
2009's follow-up, Wall of Arms marked serious progression for the band, and where Colour It In could have been unfairly overlooked amidst the barrage of indie releases, the band's second offering reallt made music lovers sit up and take note. Featuring the brilliantly dark and brooding No Kind Words and Love You Better, this is an album that steps forward from those of the band's contemporaries and embraces the dark side. With Arcade Fire's producer Markus Davis in tow, the band have developed their signature sound immensely and have delivered sophisticated songs for almost all moods. And, just as significantly, they've produced an album that men like - an album that speaks to the boys in the crowd in a year that's been dominated by female-based music.
And so to the gig itself - For the first time in a long while, we couldn't help ourselves but venture right into the heart of the throbbing crowd at the gig. We jumped, danced and sang along to song after song that the band performed with relish. Groups of guys threw their arms around each other's shoulders and cheered and grinned, their faces telling that, as far as they were concerned there and then, no other song defined their friendship; no other other band spoke to them quite like this. Of course, this could just be the hysteria of the moment, but it was wholly refreshing to see a crowd so engaged with the band and so willing to enjoy themselves. Many a girlfriend's face expressed the look of "I didn't know you liked them this much."
But don't get me wrong, this wasn't a crowd divided. Just as many girls and women were enjoying the music and dancing and singing their hearts out. This was a gig that pulled the audience in and gave them a sense of collective euphoria.
When the crowd drowned out frontman Orlando Weeks' amplified vocals on old favourite Precious Time, the band appeared visibly moved, hugging each other in deisbelief at their triumph. Felix White declared Brixton Academy to be "the best venue in the world," and as the final shords of Love You Better rand out, Weeks was clearly overwhelmed by the reception of the crowd and left the stage in humble tears. "I think you've given us the best night of our lives," he confessed. I'm sure they gave many of the 4,000 strong crowd one of the best nights of theirs too.
words&photo: Claire B of Shoegazer