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Maxïmo Park @ Arts Club, Liverpool – 30/8/21

The Geordie collective roll onto Seel Street in support of their latest album.

Album shows are a relatively new concept, seemingly designed to help with those now-more-important-than-ever first week sales.

They give fans the first chance to hear the new stuff, usually in places far smaller than they would normally play.

The only downside to these is that people are not that familiar with the material and therefore crave the older songs even more.

Unless, you would think, like tonight, where the album itself has been out for just over six months.

Nature Always Wins, Maximo Park‘s seventh studio album, is considered as something of a (and I don’t particularly like this expression) “return to form”, reaching number two in the Album Charts, their first record to do that since 2007’s Our Earthly Pleasures.

So, it’s with a certain swagger, that the band (dressed as if set for a night at a bowling alley) enter proceedings at a shade after 8pm, none of this support band lark at an album show.

They head straight into two of the catchiest songs from the latest record, All Of Me and Ardour, with singer Paul Smith his usual enthralling front-man self, behatted as ever, stalking the stage.

However, it soon becomes obvious that a good three-quarters of the large Arts Club haven’t actually listened to the album, as the reaction, and indeed, atmosphere is minimal.

Do these people not have Spotify?

Maximo Park (Credit: Cheryl Doherty)

This becomes even more pronounced with the massive reaction for early singles Books for Boxes and Going Missing, and the already well known songs sprinkled throughout the set.

But, for those who have engulfed themselves in the new record, the highlights come thick and fast.

Baby, Sleep (with Smith‘s heartfelt intro about it being for his daughter and a stunning version of the woozy, mesmeric Child of the Flatlands, being but two.

It’s to the credit of MP is that they are one of those perennially under-appreciated bands, whose back catalogue you can forget is so strong, and it’s with a confidence and vigour that they attack the old songs as well as the new, both crowd and band up their game as Our Velocity kicks in.

They end their main set with recent single, I Don’t Know What I’m Doing, and Smith thankfully let’s us know that they will be returning (something we weren’t sure about, still adapting to the album show etiquette).

Of which it must be said, we have heard various horror stories about these type of events, bands just rocking up, charging a fair few quid, doing an half hour of new songs and then that’s it., but tonight no-one is getting short changed here.

The three-song encore ends with the classic Apply Some Pressure, which we get one and a half versions of, due to some on-stage waywardness.

And then we are done, a shade after half nine, which is something us people of a certain age with work in the morning, can really get behind.

There’s no return to form here, because Maximo Park have yet to ever drop the ball album-wise.

Roll on their October tour, hopefully people will have actually listened to it by then.

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