Review: The Maccabees @ o2 Academy Leeds

By December 3, 2015


Photo credit: Greg Neate

Photo credit: Greg Neate

With the backdrop of the critically acclaimed, two-years-in-the-making number one album Marks To Prove It (2015), Wednesday night saw London based five piece The Maccabees return to Leeds, to grace us with their presence at the o2 Academy. After seeing the band at Glastonbury back in June, I could hardly wait to see them perform again…
After three unique but all fantastic tours promoting their albums Colour It In (2007), Wall of Arms (2009) and Given To The Wild (2012), it goes without saying that The Maccabees clearly know how to please a crowd, and Wednesday’s show met, even exceeded all expectations.

As the crowd eagerly anticipate the arrival of The Maccabees on stage with chants of “Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire!”, the band emerge on to the floodlit stage. Frontman, Orlando Weeks, gives a heart-warmingly awkward “hello” to the crowd and it begins. The lights drop and the band kick-start their show with their latest hit ‘Marks To Prove It’, leaving fans unable to contain their excitement as beer is thrown and arms begin to flail. This was just the beginning of what became an outstanding show and a triumphant return to Leeds.

Guitarist Felix White introduces a few classic crowd-pleasers including, ‘Feel To Follow’ and ‘Wall Of Arms’, both of which whip the audience into a frenzy. White reminisces about playing at Wire 10 years ago and repeatedly thanks Leeds “for looking after them”, quickly assuming the mantle of the crowd’s favourite.

Standing in the o2 Academy and observing the crowd, I notice the extremely wide fan base, from mosh-pitting 14-year olds to 70-year old indie rockers quietly observing Weeks’ soothing voice and melodic tones from the safety of the balcony. The Maccabees’ caring and down to earth nature should not go unnoticed. The band abruptly stop playing half way through ‘X-Ray’ after they spot a moshing teen on the ground. All five band members look genuinely concerned at the thought of an injury and want reassurance from security that the fan is OK. Before continuing with their set, White asserts, “if someone falls over, please help them up”. Now, how many other bands do you know that would stop their set because a fan fell over?

Prior to the encore, the set finishes with the atmospheric and anthemic ‘Grew Up At Midnight’, leaving not one single dry eye in the house. The soft angelic and choir-like vocal harmonies of Weeks’ voice brings out the emotions in the best of us and it soon hits home that The Maccabees will be disappearing from our gaze.

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Photo credit: Harriet Trayling

So after 14 superb songs, The Maccabees declare it’s time to leave but they soon return with beers in their hands to greet the excitable audience chanting “we want more”. Immediately, the guitars kick in and the band continue by appropriately playing two tracks lifted from their latest album, ‘River Song’ and ‘WW1 Portraits’, cleverly in time with the spectacular lighting projected on the Elephant & Castle backdrop.

It would be rude not to mention Weeks’ effortless talent for whistling which is evident throughout the whole of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, enough to send a chill down everyone’s spine.

As expected, the final song was no less than ‘Pelican’, which is appropriate given this is the pivotal song in The Maccabees’ careers. ‘Pelican’ has everything for the ardent fan including instantly adorable arrangements coupled with raw power and emotion.

The only disappointment if I have one is the absence of ‘Latchmere’ on the set list, but still, after listening to the whole set and Orlando Weeks’ angelic vocals accompanied by both Felix and Hugo White’s soaring guitar arrangements, I really don’t think I have anything to complain about…

Whilst some bands lose “it” by the time they get to their fourth album, this definitely cannot be said for The Maccabees – they did not disappoint!

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