The Maccabees | Pop review

Brixton Academy, London

The Maccabees' star has risen spectacularly in 2009. Once seen as purveyors of likable but limited jerky guitar pop, they're now selling out the 4,000-capacity Brixton Academy.

The catalyst was this summer's album Wall of Arms, a giddy and exhilarating collection of overwrought pop songs. It was produced by Markus Dravs, who has also worked with Arcade Fire, and tonight's show serves as proof that the latter's expansive, life-affirming ethos has also infiltrated the Maccabees' music.

The Brighton band have added a brass section for this tour, and the guests' upbeat interjections add to the mood of exuberance. Typical is the kinetic opener No Kind Words, a tale of going off the rails that sees hooks, chords and melodies tumble over each other with a gloriously frenzied intensity.

Frontman Orlando Weeks is a slight, self-conscious figure, but much of the Maccabees' appeal lies in his tremulous, keening vocal and heroically bad dancing. His ungainly hopping from foot to foot is easily forgiven on Can You Give It?, where the band's chiming, three-guitar assault recalls the spindly energy and dizzy joy of early James. Weeks looks overcome on old live favourite Precious Time as 4,000 hoarse voices bellow the band's words back at them, but recovers his panache for William Powers, a nervous stutter of a song that shares Arcade Fire's knack of being simultaneously epic and intimate.

By the encore of Love You Better, even the drums appear to be speaking in tongues. If the Maccabees got any more overexcited, you would be unwise to rule out the possibility of spontaneous combustion.


Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

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