It’s been five years since Maximo Park toured North America; five years since their last Boston gig, a respectable showing at the Paradise. It’s been closer to seven years since they first played the Middle East Downstairs to a small, but enraptured crowd. Hailing from Newcastle, the five-piece boasts jangly guitars, layered synths, erudite lyrics, and powerful live performances.
And take it from Popblerd, after experiencing the first night of this tour in support of their latest release, The National Health: The anticipation is well worth it. And I cannot stress this enough: Do what you can to see them on this tour. It’s a short timeline, and it may involve a road trip, but make it happen. You will not be sorry. (However, your legs may be, after dancing like crazy.)
“We want to go to as many places as possible, but it’s increasingly hard just to fit things in,” said frontman Paul Smith. A bit of a maniac on stage, offstage he’s all pressed shirts and delicately chosen words. “We had a month to fit as many shows in as we could.
Managing to squeeze a two-week jaunt from the East to Left Coast is ambitious, and a bit mental – especially for a band that hasn’t enjoyed mainstream success here in the US. They’re honest about the fact that the tour will actually lose money for the band.
“The tours are just a way of obviously playing the songs and giving something to people, and trying to connect with people.” There’s a bit of a pause, and Paul’s voice cracks with just a hint of mirth. “And also, we want to see America – and see the world!”
And see it, they do. Even with what must be killer jetlag, the band was out and about in town after their Sunday touchdown. Guitarist Duncan Lloyd’s Instagram (Check ‘em out at dunclloyd.) was awash with wicked pictures of the area. His feed is always good for amazing snaps, and to see our fair city through his perspective made my cold, Boston heart sing. (Key-man Lukas also has a great Instagram feed, with tons of behind the scenes shots. You can follow him at lukasmaximopark.)
Duncan shared his tricks of the trade, pulling out his iPhone. “It’s like going back to art school on your phone.” His go-to apps are Color Strokes, Photo Studio, and Deluxe FX, as well as the standard filters available via Instagram. But the real trick?
“Sometimes I double-filter.” Duncan grins. “Filter, save, filter it again. It just makes it really rich.” So says the man that admits that when Polaroid was discontinued he went around to shops while on tour and bought up all the film he could carry back home.
For this jaunt, though, it’s definitely a streamlined affair – not sure there’s room to spare on their fairly modest “Band Wagon”. They joke about spending their off time buying spare parts for the keyboards. And they’re not convinced that they’ll be a healthy turnout.
“I guess we’ve had a longer break, and it’s like: Are people still going to come see us?” Duncan asked.
Well, the show at the Middle East Downstairs spoke for itself; there was definitely more people there than the first time Maximo popped in for a spell. As always, the basement vibe and low-slung stage make for a great crowd experience.
The band killed it, including new tunes “Hips and Lips” and “This is What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”, and a pretty healthy representation from their back catalogue. There was a dash of crowd-based insanity during some of the older tracks, including an intense version of “Now I’m All Over the Shop” and a raging “Apply Some Pressure.”
Let’s be real, Cherished Reader:, I was so wrapped up in the music and experiencing the actual event that I honestly can’t even tell you what really happened. It was a blur of incredibly tight music, manic dancing with strangers, and fervent singing along. Paul spinning around the stage, chapeau firmly in place, with Lukas commanding these amazing noises out of his fingertips via his keyboard. Duncan thundering riffs out of his guitar. Archis holding it down on bass, and Tom keeping the band and the crowd on point. It was a kaleidoscope; an explosion of sound and feelings in a basement.
“We still believe we have something to offer the people in America, as a band,” Paul had shared prior to the show.
And they do, America, they do.
Maximo Park is on tour in the US through September 21st. Check out dates and get tickets. Be mindful, though, once you decide to embark on the delightful experience of viewing Maximo Park live: I definitely lost my head. My arrival home was punctuated by me (allegedly) waking up Jesse by climbing into bed fully clothed and (allegedly) saying things like “Oh my gaaaaahd, they were so gooooood,” and “I just don’t even know how to tell you about it, it was so amaaaazing!” POIDH, I say.