Maximo Park at The Edge Festival

Monday night saw the visit of Teesside’s favourite sons, Maximo Park and their seemingly endless supply of high tempo tunes to Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange. It’s not the world’s best venue and history has shown it can be beset by sound problems, which needless to say reared their ugly heads at the start of Maximo Park’s set (more later…)

Maximo Park promotional image for The Edge Festival 2008

For a change there were two support bands - Wild Beasts and Young Knives, but the less said about the former the better. For a start they looked far too posh to be in a band with the singer having the same haircut and dress sense of Aled Jones circa Walking in the Air and as far the music - a very poor man’s mid-period Radiohead / Coldplay / Muse and various other bed-wetters. Not good. Let’s be brutally honest any band which includes ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ in their set can’t be taken seriously.

Young Knives were much better with the highlight being their 2006 straight in at number 35 hit ‘Hot Summer’. The set was made far more enjoyable with the banter between the lead singer Henry Dartnall and his Roland-out-of Grange Hill-lookalike brother, who for some reason has been nicknamed ‘House of Lords’. Some good pop-punk tunes, but probably in the need of another hit single if they don’t wish to continue supporting Maximo Park at gigs like these.

Maximo Park opened with “Girls Who Play Guitars”, the first track from their second album ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’. But once again the Corn Exchange sound problems hit hard and they were forced to leave the stage. However, lead singer Paul Smith returned shortly afterwards with even more exuberance - which I didn’t think was humanly possible - the national grid should wire him and the keyboard player up and try to reduce prices with their boundless energy. Smith may have looked like a cross between one of the Milk Bar Droogs from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and a national hunt jockey but he is definitely one of the best front-men around, blessed with a distinctive voice and fantastic stage presence.

The rest of the night was populated with all the hits and filler from the first and vastly underrated second album. The audience were fairly belting out all the hit singles with ‘Graffiti’, ‘The Coast is Always Changing’ and ‘Our Velocity’ striking a real chord with most people. Given where the band hails from, I’m sure the boys in the crowd wearing ‘God Save The Keane’ t-shirts would have been pleased.

There were a few new numbers as well; a bit more medium-paced but well received nonetheless and this bodes well for their new album which is due to be released next year. The encore was bright and breezy and finished off with the Mark Ronson ruined ‘Apply Some Pressure’.

All in all a good gig and in the current climate of musical dreariness Maximo Park are a diamond in the rough.

David Low was reporting on Maximo Park’s performance at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange for The Edge Festival 2008.

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