Saturday, October 24, 2009


Monday, August 20, 2007 
The Prince of Wales

The Prince is filled to OH&S limit by dressed down 16 year-olds with fake ID and the vibe is up up up. Maximo Park seem to appeal to the suburban high school fraternity and the odd pasty-skinned Brit, none of whom have any qualms in letting you know of this appeal either. Ghostwood take to the stage with the sparkling sheen of Nowhere-era Ride fronted by a rougher Thom Yorke. Seeing yet another arty, well-heeled Sydney four-piece, signed before gig number 10, with an average body weight of under 50 kilos and obvious influences is a fairly rote and uninspiring experience, but they do carry the nu-shoegaze torch well. Though their entire set begs for a permanent camera-strobing effect there are fresh ideas in the case of songs Catface, new single Red Version and final frenetic burst Run. Unlikely to break any major ground but a decent new band pursuing an under-explored area of music.

Before the band kick off, British indie-rock hits get the crowd even more excited, and the literal launch into Girls Who Play Guitars fits in after The Fratellis beautifully. Instantly leaving preconceived ideas of their recorded versions in the dust, Maximo Park's songs explode like an avalanche from the stage. Paul Smith, bedecked in bowler hat, patent leather shoes, a 'There is Hope' t-shirt, and (thankfully) wireless mic, pinballs around the stage high-kicking the air sporting one manic expression after the other. All Over The Shop, Parisian Skies, new single Our Velocity and Postcard of A Painting follow, and it's by now that the crowd start to limber up and stop just singing along it's time for fists aloft and some jovial shoving. The next 45 minutes, (which include LIMASOL, Coast Is Always Changing - dedicated to "St Kilda Pier and that beach near it" and Graffiti) hype the crowd up to such a ridiculous degree that it must rank as one of the most one-more-song-like-this-and-I'll-wet-my-pants crowds The Prince has ever seen (and that's including last year's Go! Team gig). This level of adoration visibly surprises the band, prompting Smith to say "Since we started Maximo Park, I know that I have become literally a shadow of my former self, but you remind me why we do this. Thank you. This next song is called Apply Some Pressure." And again the crowd explode.

Behind this exuberance sits Tom English, a masterfully underplaying drummer from the Charlie Watt school of refined cool, the solid, often high-pitched bass of Archis Tiku who allows keyboardist Lucas Wooller (beginning each song, hands on keys, like a sprinter waiting for the pistol) to ricochet along with the songs, never missing a rhythm shift or fill. This infectious freshness is a welcome change from the 'just like the album' school of performance which seems to suffice for so many bands of late. That this band that have also cleared that 'tricky second album' hurdle better than most - tonight's crowd loving the new as much as the old - indicates no shortage of new ideas,all adds up to one thing. A cracking show.

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