Review: The Maccabees @ Rock City

The Maccabees have slowly but surely become a landmark band in British music. Their latest album ‘Marks to Prove It’ took their signature sound to new depths and ensured they returned victorious, bringing them their first UK number one. I was lucky enough to catch them on the first night of their UK tour at Nottingham’s Rock City.

Support for the night came from moody garage-rock trio Drenge, whose drum-heavy tracks were a slightly different vibe to the standard Maccabees sound, but their opening was met with bobs and sways of approval from the crowd. Not long after their set came to a close, the lights went down once more and The Maccabees filed on to the stage to a warm welcome of cheers from eager fans and a sea of pints held up in the air.

After spending three long years writing and perfecting their latest record, you may think that the band would be a little rusty when it comes to the performance side of the job – but this wasn’t the case at all. Jumping straight in with first single from the album of the same name ‘Marks to Prove It’, the band slipped back into their usual positions. Frontman Orlando Weeks hunched over the microphone, eyes closed and sleeves pulled down, whilst the role of revving up the crowd landed on guitarist Felix, who in turn seemed pretty thrilled to do so.

Oldies ‘First Love’ and ‘Precious Time’ got the heartiest reception from the crowd, with smiles of nostalgia as they chucked their heads back and sang out the big line “LET’S MAKE TIME WORK FOR US!”. Saying that, the overall set was crammed with as much new material as possible and the band exhibited great pride at how well the new music translated on stage, which was their overall aim when creating this record. This certainly showed as they rattled through their current singles, as well as treating us to a live debut of the heartbreaker of a track ‘Silence’.

Their new material, although beautiful, is set at a very different level to their previous records. These songs aren’t the rock-pop sing-a-longs of their early days that perhaps the crowd is used to. Their dip into slower ballads meant that the general tempo of the gig was a little scatty in places – but we can put that down to some set-list tweaking still to be done. The new music itself sits somewhere between the extremes of what they have produced before - it’s not overly layered, yet not straight-up fervent guitar riffs. This meant that the stop-and-go nature of the set didn’t dim the energy of the gig. Somehow, the live renditions of the new music stands on the shoulders of the old and it all fits together. Somehow, it still works.

The band came back for their encore and left the venue on a high with anthem ‘Pelican’. The band members thanked attendees for making the trip to see them and in return the attendees cheered the band for a brilliant evening of music. In a mixed crowd of old and young, long-time and new fans alike, there was a surging air of admiration for the group. It’s been a steady climb for the band and their latest album beautifully meshes the old with the new and acts as a brilliant display of how the band have progressed over time. I wish them all the best with the rest of their UK tour.


Edited by Sarah Holmes

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