REVIEW: Maximo Park, Live in Times Square, Newcastle

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.
Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.
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Hometown heroes Maximo Park brought down the curtain on a thrilling weekend of music Live in Times Square, Newcastle.

Three days of gigs in the square outside the Centre For Life went some way to make up for the fact the city hasn't had an Evolution Festival for the last three years.

Maximo Park Live in Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Maximo Park Live in Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Fatboy Slim on Friday night and a bill of Britpop guitar bands headlined by Ocean Colour Scene on Saturday saw the square packed out with gig-goers.

Indie rockers Maximo Park, playing in the city where they formed, seemed a good bet to make it a hat-trick of triumphant gigs.

So it was a shame the outdoor venue was perhaps only half-full for a band who always deliver a great live experience.

Whether it was the hefty £40 ticket price, or the fact that the undercard didn't follow any particular theme, the public didn't respond to this gig like they had the other two.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Electro-rock outfit Public Service Broadcasting will have won plenty of new fans among those who turned up at teatime to listen to their hour-long set, culled largely from last year's excellent The Race For Space album, but featuring old favourites such as Spitfire, Everest and Signal 30.

Blending samples of old archive footage and sound samples with live guitar, bass and drums, they kept everyone entertained, and were even joined onstage at one point by a dancing spaceman.

Nineties indie shoegazers Lush, on the other hand, seemed a bit of a mystery to many of the crowd, with their set the signal for many folk to seek refuge in the bars around the square as the chill proved you can't guarantee a warm summer's evening in the North East, even at the end of July.

Their biggest hit, Ladykillers, towards the end of the set, was the only song which seemed to spark any recognition in most of the crowd as they played a set which largely ignored their best-selling album, Lovelife.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

By contrast, it's only a few months ago that Maximo celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first album A Certain Trigger by playing it in full at a sold-out Newcastle City Hall.

Yet they had no qualms about playing most of it again, interspersed with tracks ranging right across their other four studio albums, and the crowd lapped it up.

They exploded onstage with their very first single, The Coast Is Always Changing, and threw in another early crowd-pleaser, Graffiti, just three songs in.

The crowd were eating out of their hand, and even responded favourably to Risk To Exist, a song so new they haven't even recorded it yet - "a bit of a festival no-no, so thanks for not going to the toilet" said ever-engaging frontman Paul Smith.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Maximo Park Live at Times Square, Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

They can get away with it because as soon as they're in danger of losing an audience's interest they wheel out another of their big guns - songs of the calibre of Our Velocity, The Kids Are Sick Again or the sublime Midnight On The Hill.

The National Health, from their fourth album, of the same name, was played with particular venom, and dedicated to the Tories - "they might be pantomime villains but they're a dangerous threat to our existence."

The 90-minute set ended with familiar closer Apply Some Pressure, and there was time for a quick encore of Girls Who Play Guitars before the band promised to return next year with a new album.

Taken as part of the trio of gigs under the Live At Times Square banner, it was a triumph for promoters SSD Concerts. My only quibble would be the lack of passouts; once you were in the square you had to stay there, and if this formula is to be repeated, bringing it together as a city centre festival where you cam come and go might be worth a go.