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The Maccabees – Glasgow Oran Mór

Things are different nowadays, that’s for sure. Time was when a band on the first night of their tour, as the Brighton-based band are, would kick off with their new single. These days, they launch into the latest song they’ve released to their website to download. It’s progress, I suppose. ‘No Kind Words’ is, however, rapturously received by the crowd, a collection of mainly Skins Indie type teens who do resemble extras from the set of ‘Son of Rambow’. That eighties/noughties fusion is a tough one to pull off on a budget, it would seem.

Speaking of Skins Indie, The Maccabees arrived in mid-2007 along with peers such as Foals and were somewhat pigeonholed into that category, perhaps more on looks than anything else. In truth, they’ve always been a little more interesting than that. The chopping guitars are there – think the Strokes playing Dr. Feelgood songs – but the stargazing ambition has always been clear. Lovely bursts of twinkling guitars and sheer enthusiasm drive on songs such as ‘X-Ray’ and are rapturously received. The band play a hefty selection of new material, all of which sounds promising and all of which goes down well. Kudos to the crowd for not getting impatient and shouting for favourites. The band, to their credit, are enthusiastic and engaging, and genuinely seem grateful for the reception.

And here’s where it falls down a little. When you go to see a band four or five albums in then chances are you are not going to hear all your favourites. C’est la vie. But when you go to see a band four or five singles in then you have a decent expectation of hearing them all. They end with ‘Precious Time’ and ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, but fail to play previous singles and obvious crowd favourites ‘About Your Dress’ and ‘Latchmere’. Unforgivable for a band touring in support of their as-yet-unreleased second album.

It’s a shame, because on leaving everyone is talking about what they didn’t play as opposed to what they did. The set is an hour and ten; would it be that difficult to stretch it to an hour and twenty? Also, the band haven’t been charging experimental prices. It’s £13. At that price, you do owe the audience a little. The band may be trying to move on and develop their sound, but if Bruce Springsteen can still play ‘Born to Run’ after all these years, then they can play songs 18 months old. 

So defeat somewhat snatched from the jaws of victory, which is a real pity because this set whizzed by with vim and verve and ideas. But when you find time to let the guitarist into the middle to sing your new b-side, then you have to find time to play the songs that people have actually paid to hear. One hates to bring up something as vulgar as money, but the fact is that it is tight at the moment. The Maccabees might speak warmly of coming back soon, but when they do, they may find the audience was faced with a choice between them and, say, White Lies and opted for the latter because they’ll play the songs they want to hear.

The Maccabees are a great band. But they have to realise that a show belongs to an audience, not the other way round. Get that sorted and they’ll be tough to stop.

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