On the last night of the tour –it was palpable that the band were clearly happy to finish up in Glasgow, the excellent sounding St Luke’s church acted as a perfect venue for the next stage of the Maximo Park trajectory.
Just like the latest album, the setlist was colourful but notably contained a dedicatedly subdued, introspective section, punctuated with tunes from across the band’s career, with older hits ramping up to a real crescendo at the end.
As can often happen with a band of any rock related genre that have reached a certain age, the spunky songs are replaced by a slower paced feel, some examples of newer tracks in this vibe include ‘Child of the Flatlands.’ While slower in tempo, there was a real feeling that Maximo Park are continually working to make music that’s important to them, and this was well appreciated by their audience. Another new song ‘Placeholder,’ a personal favourite from the new album, marked a turning point in the energy of the show. I suspected that the audience reaction was one of pleasant surprise, with a sizeable number perhaps only along for the older hits, but the mood of the whole venue was raised by the urgency of the track, helped by the catchy melody and consistently driving performance of the whole band. From there more and more popular favourites such as Books in Boxes and Apply Some Pressure were laced into a varied collection from the bands back catalog.
Another standout song was Ardour, again from the latest album. In the live setting keyboard player Jemma Freese capably took on vocal duty from Pauline Murray’s excellent contribution on the studio recording.
A heavier focus on synth and keys completed a measured and full live sound. The guitar of Duncan Lloyd carried the lead melody lines effectively, and added interesting texture for the more electronic focussed tracks. Meanwhile, the drums of Tommy English were more relaxed, and groove focused. Mr Smith has lost none of his energy however, bouncing all over the stage, peering out over our heads, locked in contemplation, pulling out moves that wouldn’t go amiss in the Globe Theatre. Dressed like a jester quite literally, Paul has the eccentric air of a traditional entertainer, he knows what he’s trying to do, and his audience knew it too.
Honourable mentions go to Smith’s tongue-in-cheek stylophone solo, (a tour first apparently,) and a brilliant opening set from indie/pop touring support act Peaness, who sold several t-shirts on the night by appealing to the local sense of humour and strong DIY identity.
Maximo Park’s UK tour finale depicted an experienced act well received by an experienced crowd. However, there was no sense of a fall from previous glory or a diminished relevance. Watching The band blow the doors off St Luke’s in just the right way to a loving crowd was a joy to witness, I find myself a late fan having only really delved into them after writing a review for recent album ‘Nature Always Wins.’ The band have been to the top during the Indie heyday with two first rate albums of their time in ‘A Certain Trigger’ and ‘Our Earthly Pleasures;’ and have since gracefully floated downstream to where they find themselves in 2021, still making great music, still touring (springing back into action after Covid), still keeping their reduced but sizable core fanbase happy, and still winning a few new ones along the way.