The Maccabees / Mumford & Sons / The Sharks

Birmingham Academy 2, 10th May 2009

Featured Artists: The Maccabees  Mumford & Sons 

I arrive at the hideous venue that is the Birmingham Academy 2 (it’s a funny shape, awkward, dirty, bad sound…I could go on but I’ll spare you,) to catch the end of first support act The Sharks set. The lead singer, with his Esser style hair is singing an Esser style song with an Esser title - ‘Bones.’  So far so (insert rather obvious answer here).

Next on the bill are the hotly tipped Mumford & Sons and, my goodness, are they great. Simple but effective three part harmonies, banjos, synths and intricate guitar melodies make me think of Ryan Adams with a hillbilly tinge. Throughout the set I have to resist trying to square dance with my plus one! The band can go from sensitive with heartstring tugging vocals from lead singer (and former Laura Marling band member) Marcus to full on foot stomping, in-you-ears chorus in mere moments which literally gets my pulse racing. It is, to sum it up briefly, very, very exciting to watch and hear. The last song, where Marcus takes to the drum kit, whilst staying on lead vocals provides an insight into post-folk at its provocative best. Somebody get me their EP…NOW!

The crowd get stormy as they impatiently wait for The Maccabees to appear (blame the venue, it has that effect on people) and begin to boo, however they soon change their tune to rapturous applause as Orlando and co take to the stage and launch fearsomely into `No Kind Words`, the track off new release `Wall of Arms` that has got all the reviewers talking. It’s a strong start and gets me prepared for a set filled with their darkly-themed new material…however it doesn’t come. Clearly wanting to please their fans the band probably play more old songs than new, not seeming to realise that many of their adoring fans have clearly already bought the new LP, taken it home and ingested the lyrics so thoroughly that they are able to sing along wholeheartedly, not only to `No Kind Words` but also to my personal favourites `Young Lions`, `William Powers` and the latest single and encore of `Love You Better`. Live, the band sound less vulnerable than on record, and this works particularly well with the new material. On record I feel that `Wall of Arms` is a tad ‘safe’ with its production values, however when played onstage it’s a brilliant tour de force of guys and their guitars.  

Despite having been on tour for two weeks, the band have clearly not let their energy slide, and are on top, tight form. They also know how to please their crowd with Orlando announcing “We’re on album number two now so we should be taller but we’re not so sorry to everyone at the back!” To be honest, I think the crowd love The Maccabees just the way they are!

Final credit, however, must go to a great tech team. The sound was the best I’ve ever heard it in the Birmingham Academy venue and the lighting for both Mumford & Sons and The Maccabees took their sets to another level.

So er...that Mumford & Sons EP?

Posted on 11 May 2009 by Frankie Ward

Tags: The Maccabees  Mumford & Sons  The Sharks  Live Review  Birmingham Academy 

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