Live at the O2 Academy: The Maccabees

by Scott Smith

After 2 years of hiding away The Maccabees are back and more determined than ever. Mercury nominated Given to the Wild in 2012 was an important critical success for The Maccabees, creating a larger interest and an even larger fan base to add to the loyal followers that have stuck since 2007’s Colour it In. Now on the edge of releasing their hotly anticipated fourth album, the South-London boys take to Liverpool’s O2 Academy for an exclusive warm up show.

The evening begins with the lights dropping and the band walking out onto the dimmed stage, tricking us with the celestial flickers of the Given to the Wild intro, only to open into hard hitting and wild new song Marks to Prove It. The track is an exciting and instant whirlwind which opens with a huge wall of sound, only to catch you off guard as the beat changes to a sudden slowed down, more ambient state as the guitar sounds ribbon around the venue, only to be sped back up again, never quite settling in one place. An entrancing and swirling arrival and a wonderful statement of return.

Photo by Victoria Schofield

Photo by Victoria Schofield

There is a palpable beating in the air as the atmosphere is set and the band segues into more familiar territory with Feel to Follow. Fluid guitar lines glitter delicately around frontman Orlando’s trancelike voice before soaring into a great tidal surge, eventually overflowing and erupting into a boundless wall of euphoric release. Another Given to the Wild highlight is the ambient flickering guitars of Child; “now it’s so vivid”, Orlando softly murmurs as hundreds of hands raise in the air mimicking his own, creating a wall of arms just like the title of their sophomore album.

New song Kamakura is another rousing track that tackles familiar Maccabees subject matter of friendship and love, talking of best friends and forgiveness. Spit it Out also gets its first outing, as the band’s new female pianist opens with some soft piano whilst Orlando’s voice floats delicately alongside, but once again The Maccabees prove themselves masters of the overflow as the sparse beginnings are kept restrained until the moment of release into a dark and wild tempest, perfectly showcasing the bands unique ability to appear both intimate and grand.

Photo by Victoria Schofield

Photo by Victoria Schofield

After powering through old classics such as Love You Better and First Love the evening is finally brought to a close with the bittersweet parting of Grew up at Midnight. Felix and Hugo’s guitars ripple around Orlando’s vulnerable whispers of youthful innocence, until the climax slowly raises and spins wildly into the cosmos to its celestial finale.

It may have been two years but The Maccabees have by no means lost their magic or spark. Harnessing all the experience from producing their last album themselves, the new songs are leading the way on from Given to the Wild into even more interesting and varied ways. When it actually comes to the new album – “all fingers crossed for an April release”, says guitarist Felix White as we catch up after the gig, also promising a full UK tour ready to come in early 2015. “We’ve been in the studio for so long, we’re just excited to get out now and play the new songs and have some fun”, he says with infectious enthusiasm, and if the new songs are anything to go by, The Maccabees will only continue to be an exciting and enchanting live watch.

Read more about the Maccabees on their website. All photo credit goes to Victoria Schofield, whose frankly amazing photography you can see here, including her project A Day in the Life of The Maccabees.

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