Gig review: The Maccabees at Brixton Academy

The Maccabees onstage at Brixton Academy. Photo by Andrea McCaul
The Maccabees onstage at Brixton Academy. Photo by Andrea McCaul

By Alannah Francis

Last night the South London quintet returned to their hometown for the last leg of their Marks to Prove it UK tour, and they didn’t disappoint.

Opening with the title track from their latest album, the crowds reaction showed that they were as much invested in these indie saviours as ever before. The fact that The Maccabees can sell out two nights at Brixton Academy, four albums in, is testament to their substance and staying power.

Photo by Andrea McCaul
Photo by Andrea McCaul

As the band approach their 30s, their songs, although still about love, have moved on from firsts to much deeper reflections on the emotion that is explored throughout each of their albums.

For Silence, the song that guitarist Hugo White wrote about his late mother, the spotlight shone on him as he took lead of the band, Orlando Weeks stepping back and supporting on this occasion. The heartfelt lyrics about bottling up grief, and its cry for the silence to be broken in such situations, left the crowd visibly moved.

A projection of the image from the cover art on Marks to Prove It provided the backdrop to the band’s set, which was also adorned with vintage-looking hanging bulb lights that helped to set the mood for the bands more melancholy material.

In between songs, Weeks took the opportunity to thank fans for their support throughout the years and didn’t fail to acknowledge the seated fans up top. Before launching into a fan favourite, Latchmere – an up-tempo ode to the leisure centre – Weeks spoke for a few minutes about the beauty of London and its iconic architecture; themes that influenced their latest album but have also been a source of inspiration from their early days as Latchmere proves.

Photo by Andrea McCaul
The spotlight shines on Orlando Weeks of the Maccabees. Photo by Andrea McCaul

With such an enthusiastic and committed fanbase, the band can do without explicitly encouraging their supporters to join in. But when revisiting a track from their first album, Felix White reached out to fans both new and old to sing along to Precious Time, remarking on the ease with which anyone could pick it up.

Anyone who’s listened to the Maccabees back catalogue will know that the band has a history of exploring mortality and prior to performing their debut single, the frantic X-Ray, Weeks expressed an awareness of the band’s maturity by joking about how they used to be able to pay it a lot quicker.

The band switched from new material to old almost seamlessly and when they left the stage for the first time, the audience eagerly awaited their return. For the encore they revisited their first album and one of their most well-known songs, Toothpaste Kisses. Weeks’ whistling solo effectively silenced the entirety of the filled-to-capacity venue. And then it was onto the anthemic Pelican to finish.

The spotlight literally shone on Weeks through their more stripped back offerings, the coming-of-age Grew up at Midnight and the live version of Spit it Out, and all indie lovers can only hope that the spotlight continues to shine on this South London band for many years to come.


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