Albert Hall, Manchester // Monday, January 18, 2016
North Londoners THE MACCABEES are a rare breed. Seemingly at home in mid-sized venues yet easily making cavernous arenas seem like intimate affairs, they’re a curious hybrid of stadium-destined superstars and well-respected art-rock grafters.
They’ve played up the road at Manchester’s Arena just over a year ago – a venue around ten times the capacity of this stunning converted Wesleyan chapel – and sold out the Ritz last summer.
Each time we’ve seen them, we’ve left the gig knowing those bigger stages beckon, but they remain (for now, at least) this strange beast, content within these confines. And we’re all for it, greedily.
Tonight – the first of two hugely-popular sell-out shows at the Albert Hall – they hit the ground running with their new album’s title track Marks To Prove It and Feel To Follow – bang bang! Their setlist offers up the best of their decade-long career, from debut single X-Ray to new hits Something Like Happiness and Spit It Out.
The stage is filled with eight musicians, boosting the Maccabees’ huge sound that’s as grand and beautiful as this rustic old venue we’re packed in.
Very little gets in the way of the music, which is nothing short of glorious tonight. The stage set-up is nicely reserved, almost mood lighting striking waves of colour on the band, and banter is kept to a minimum.
Mild-mannered frontman Orlando humbly salutes his appreciation to the cheers erupting from the crowd at the end of each song, while guitarist Felix is the one to watch – bounding around the stage with a fixed grin beaming throughout the show.
With such effortless delivery, every tune is given so much space to breathe, yet doubled-up percussion, piano and brass bring vitality to even the most delicate moments, like the sublime Silence.
Toothpaste Kisses and closer Pelican draw huge applause from the ardent fans as security reluctantly give up on efforts of crowd control when mosh pits open up and shoulders are climbed upon for that last song. What a way to end the show!
Surely now with a number one album under their belts, they’re due that step up to bigger stages they’ve evaded these past few years. And catch them headlining festivals any time soon, for sure.