Maximo Park / Bombay Bicycle Club / Stricken City
Birmingham Academy, 19th May 2009
A stage packed with dust sheet-covered equipment gave Stricken City little room to manoeuvre during the opening slot. On the plus side, they were playing to a rapidly filling room of surprisingly attentive people - attention that they held with aplomb.
The band seem to be going through their `building up stage experience` phase but they`ve got a slightly gawky charm that it`d be a shame to lose. Musically, we`re talking catchy guitar pop with enough quirk to keep things interesting. Oh, plus the obligatory extended percussion sections - 2009 is turning out to be the year mainstream indie rediscovered drum rhythms.
Bombay Bicycle Club are one of those bands that have been on the edge of my radar for a while. I`d half heard a few songs and suspected I might like them if I gave them a chance. However, last night I didn`t think they were much to get excited about. Jack, a graduate of the Thom Yorke School of Dance, mumbled words which were punctuated occasionally by tight bursts of frenetic guitar riffage.
There was never any fear that Maximo Park would get things back on track. With the release of their third album, `Quicken The Heart`, they`ve established themselves as an indie mainstay - something that didn`t look all that likely when they first appeared on Warp many moons ago.
An aesthetic band, there was none of the clutter that the other bands had to put up with. Their stage-set was all about silhouettes, strobes, spotlights and contrasting colours. It allowed Paul Smith to throw as many shapes as he liked - jousting with his mic stand, leaning back to shout through a megaphone and leaping from the front of the stage.
Although I don`t think the new album is as strong as previous ones, the more recent songs were received well enough - peppered throughout a set of established faves, of course. `My Velocity`, `The Coast is Always Changing` and `Books From Boxes` caused a fuss early on, but then Maximo Park are well-oiled party starters these days .
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