The Maccabees review – three-guitar rush with an apres-midnight melancholy

Dome, Brighton
The London band deliver a winning indie intensity, with a welcome Macc’n’cheese moment

In the balcony, half a dozen young men are urging on the Maccabees by bellowing “Feee-lix! Hugooo! Rupert! Orlandooo!” On the face of it, that’s 2015 indie-rock all over: well-connected characters named after Edwardian rakes have surged to the top, and even their most bellicose fans are mannerly, apologising for jostling as they fist pump to their chart-topping fourth album, Marks to Prove It.

Yet the five-piece (the drummer is a prosaic Sam) are more than just Florence Welch and Adele’s childhood friends from south London.In the last decade, they’ve evolved from youthful saucepan-clatterers – “This song came out 10 years ago next week,” singer Orlando Weeks marvels at the start of X-Ray – to something with considerably more light and shade. On the current tour, a trumpeter and a percussionist shuttle on and off stage, adding apres-midnight melancholy to the three-guitar rush of blood. Together, Weeks and high-cheekboned guitarist brothers Hugo and Felix White are the sound of a decade’s graft abruptly splintering into spiky shards, and the trumpet/percussion duo apply a woozy glaze.

The Maccabees aren’t especially visual: a touch of strobe lights on Spit It Out is pretty much your lot, while the soft-spoken Weeks looks as if he’d be happy to hand over the frontman role to the starrier Hugo, or perhaps to the crowd-surfer who doggedly pushes forward during a head-swirling Grew Up at Midnight (currently heard in the film Steve Jobs). On the darkly regretful No Kind Words, there’s scope for Weeks to brood poetically at the mic stand; instead, he retreats from it and intones to himself.

Winding up with the skiffle-indebted Toothpaste Kisses – their Macc’n’cheese moment, if you will – and anomalous Maxïmo Park soundalike Pelican, the Maccabees stride off, another town won over by their fusion of reticence and well-spoken intensity.

• At O2 Academy, Leeds, on 25 November. Box office: 0113-389 1555. Then touring.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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