Maximo Park – Too Much Information CD Launch

A few pictures taken at the gig at The HMV Record Store, Newcastle

A few pictures taken at the gig at The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle
12444245535_1a1aa3e5dc 12444247135_4e1549da2412444378033_92f73c7cff12444725184_7eecc0e01012444726844_0aa8ab75d112444390163_444945fc0e

All pictures taken by and copyright of Mandy Atkinson

Review of both the gigs at HMV Newcastle and The Bridge Hotel:

nxb3 on tour – Maximo Park at The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle

Maximo Park launched their 5th Album yesterday, called “Too Much Information” in a series of small intimate gigs across their hometown of Newcastle. They started off at the independent Reflex Records at 3pm playing an acoustric track instore followed by a signing session for the fans that were there. There was another instore appearance at Newcastle’s other independent record store “RPM Records” at 4pm and a third instore appearance at 5pm at the HMV megastore on Northumberland Street right in the centre of town. Part of the upper floor had been cordoned off for the band to play and the rest of the huge floor area was left open for the large expected turnout.
I caught up with the band at HMV, grabbing a spot close to the front about 20 minutes before the band were due on stage and the place quickly filled up with hundreds of expectant fans. 5pm came and went with no sign of the band turning up so the previous instore at RPM probably went on later than expected. They appeared at 5:30 and after a bit of banter from Paul they started the set with their new single taken from Too Much Information called ‘Brain Cells’ a song about Paranoia and Euphoria colliding on a night out. Two more tracks from TMI followed, the first ‘Leave This Island’ was followed by ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’. Back in time now to their first CD “A Certain Trigger’ for the track that regularly opened their set in the early days ‘Signal and Sign’. A couple more new tracks from TMI ‘Midnight On The Hill’ and ‘Where We’re Going’ and the last track was the only one it could be, ‘By The Monument’. This was a great set from Maximo Park lasting about half an hour showcasing 5 songs from the new CD and a couple of old ones for good measure. It was a full band performance but the ‘drums’ consisted of only a snare and a conga type drum giving the songs a stripped down feel to them. There was a new guy on a Rickenbacker Bass as well, I’m not sure what happened to Archis and his Music Man Bass.
The gig finished at 6pm which left three hours to kill before doors opened at the Bridge hotel so it was time to hit the town for a couple of beers, finishing up in the Bridge itself around 8:30.

At just after 9pm there was a steady stream of people heading to the tiny room upstairs, all displaying their red wristbands which were all (there were only 70!!) sold in a couple of hours the previous day in Reflex Records. It didn’t take long for the room to fill up and the handpump dispensing Maximo Park’s specially commissioned beer “No5” from local award winning brewery Mordues was in almost continuous action. They hit the stage at about 9:45 and after Paul screams out “We are Maximo Park” they start with ‘Give, Get, Take’ from “Too Much Information” with the vocals a little low in the mix from where I was standing, a couple of feet back from the front of the stage in front of Paul. The crowd went wild now for ‘Our Velocity’ with everyone singing along and the sound engineer managed to get Paul’s vocals at a decent level, then it was back even further in time for ‘Signal and Sign’ for the second time of the day. A bit of banter from Paul about not reading things about the band served as an introduction to a storming ‘The National Health’ then it was time for the latest single ‘Brain Cells’. Back to the album “The National Health” again for ‘Hips & Lips’ and another old favourite from “Our Earthly Pleasures” introduced as a blast from the past ‘A Fortnight’s Time’. Two more songs from TMI now, the first ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ sounded better than earlier in the day at HMV. “Has anybody tried our beer yet?” got a massive roar from the crowd before ‘Leave This Island’ which was followed by another old set regular ‘Books From Boxes’. A bit more banter from Paul about how he and Lukas actually met in the very room they were playing in was followed by another two tracks from TMI the first ‘Drinking Martinis’ about drinking in a bar called Tokyo and ‘My Bloody Mind’. A couple of older tracks now, the first ‘The Undercurrents’ from “The National Health” and another old favourite ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ which also had everyone singing along. ‘Her Name Was Audre’ another new one from TMI preceded the magnificent ‘Apply Some Pressure’ then it was back for the last visit to TMI for ‘Midnight On The Hill’, ‘I Recognise The Light’ and ‘Where We’re Going’ before the last track of the night ‘Going Missing’.
A superb set lasting 70 minutes, there was no encore even though everyone was chanting for one as they had passed curfew. Highlight of the gig for me was Our Velocity and Apply Some Pressure, and it would have been even better if they had time for an encore of Graffiti which was sadly missed.
The mystery Bass player was still there, nothing from Paul to indicate why Archis wasn’t in the line-up

It’s not just for this album launch that they do in-stores, signing sessions and play intimate gigs in tiny venues for their fans, they do it for EVERY album launch, they support local organisations, they played a benefit for the Star and Shadow cinema in Byker, they are sponsoring Newcastle Roller Girls and supporting a local micro brewery. For these reasons and a whole lot more I have a massive amount of time for this band, local lads, still mostly living locally (not running away to London at the first sign of success) and looking after their fans put them on the same footing as Frankie and the Heartstrings for Pop Recs Ltd – Local North East heroes.

nxb3 on tour – Lach at The Duchess, York

Another York gig, there’s been a lot in the last couple of weeks. This time it was mainly to see Bored Housewife but I was also a bit intrigued by Lach so wanted to check him out too.

First band tonight is Bored Housewife, a punk/folk crossover band consisting of Justin McKeown on vocals/guitar and Meabh McDonnell on vocals/flute accompanied by their backing band The Daytime Drinkers. They greet the crowd with a big “hello, It’s amazing so many people made it down on such a shitty night”, and it was a really horrible night, cold driving rain just like for the other gigs I was in York for during the last couple of days; Chris Helme and Louise Distras. They start the set with ‘Gaylord Friend’, a new song called ‘Kids and Magazines’ and ‘TV song’ as a prelude to the great ‘You think you’re class’ and ‘A Minor Song’. Justin introduced the next song as for anyone who has ever had a crap job, he wrote it while working nightshift in a mental home apparently, the brilliant ‘Laugh, Laugh, Clap Your Hands’. They played a quiet song next about Justin playing GTA back in Northern Ireland followed by a song about a rabbit and another love song called by some strange coincidence ‘Another love song’. Two more songs to finish the set now and they are both classics, the first ‘I Wanna Fall In Love’ had the crowd laughing to the lyrics and the set closer ‘I Met A Girl’ had the crowd singing along. This was a terrific set, great songs packed with some wickedly incisive lyrics and razor sharp observations. A lot of these tracks were taken from their bedroom bootleg “To Horny To Sleep, Too Tired To Wank” available to download from Bandcamp.

Boss Caine was next up, one man and his acoustic guitar playing a selection of Country influenced Folk songs. He got a good reaction from the audience but he didn’t quite do it for me on the night, I’ve never been a fan of country music and maybe that put me off, his singing and guitar playing were good though, I think I’m going to have to see him again before making up my mind about him.

Lach was headlining tonight, an Expat American from New York City now holed up in Edinburgh. He strolled onto the stage holding onto a big mug of tea, greeted everyone with a big hello then says “what’s with the fucking barrier here, it’s crazy, I dream that someone would rush the stage” which got him a few laughs. He got a big Yee Hah from the audience then the man with the mug of tea launched straight into ‘Coffee Black’ and ‘Teenage Alcoholic’. A bit of a story now about how he was a fan of UK popular culture while still living in the states and was looking forward to hearing about The Clash, The Jam and Monty Python when he arrived over here and there was the Eagles on the Radio, Cheers and Friends on the TV and Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin on the Magazine covers so he wrote the next song about it, called ‘Ungrateful’. The next song called ‘Ghost’ was dedicated to both support bands and included the line “and the crowd, well they talked through every song” and he stopped, dead quiet for about 3 seconds and all you could hear was the low hum of audience chatter which quickly died down as they took the hint. He got the whole audience singing along to ‘Spiderman’ then started talking about the next days gig in Hull, good luck someone shouts out and Lach says “What the fuck do I do in Hull all day?”
A couple of new songs that he hoped to record in Sheffield later in the tour were next, the first of which was ‘Blue Johnny’ which he introduced as “an autobiographical tune from the 1800s when a cowboy zombie came to kill me”, I think he may have dropped a tab or two too many when he wrote that one. The second of the new songs was ‘The Chase’ which he wrote about someone he knew back in New York. He started talking about rock star biographies now, comparing different ones and having a bit of a rant about Tom Petty’s autobiography before the rock and roll song ‘Kiss Loves You’. Not many people knew what he was singing about and most people got their mobile phones out so he stopped the song, had a bit of a chat about it and started it again, with footnotes, to explain what the hell he was going on about. A blues song called ‘I Am The Prisoner’ was followed by ‘In The Kitchen’ a song about where you always end up at parties and the more melodic ‘Waltz In Blue’.
He then asked what the audience wanted to hear and someone shouted out ‘Stunned’ from the CD Ramshackle Heart so we got that next. Another story now, this time about the second university he got kicked out of in Boston which led nicely into the next song ‘Antenna’. He finished with ‘Drinking Beers With Mom Everything’s Alright!’ breaking off halfway through for yet another story before the end of the gig which lasted for well over an hour.

This was another brilliant set, some great songs, a genuinely funny guy with some really great interesting stories scattered throughout the set, continually going off on a tangent to completely unrelated subjects. I’ll be looking out for him again and I hope he gets another series on Radio 4 soon too.

nxb3 on tour – Chris Helme at The Basement, York

Tonight’s gig was at another new venue for me, The Basement which is a tiny venue beneath the cinema right in the middle of York city centre. We arrived in town just after lunch time to a grey cold day, the sky steadily darkening all the time so we made a bee line for a couple of shops we wanted to check out in the touristy Shambles area. The rain didn’t take long to start so after taking refuge in The Hop for a couple of beers and a pizza we decided to head for the venue. There were still about four hours to kill before the show was due to start so we passed the time by watching Wolf of Wall Street which finished about 30 minutes before the doors were due to open. Doors were about 5 minutes late but we were among the first in and bagged a good spot on the long bench running the entire length of the stage running parallel to and about 2 feet away from stage front.

The first support set was from TE Morris who usually fronts band Her Name is Calla but tonight he was doing a solo acoustic set. He took to the stage at about 8:15 and the opening track was ‘The Long Distance Runner’ from his CD from the middle of last year “And You Were The Hunter” followed by an excellent cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running up That Hill’. A couple more tracks from “And You Were The Hunter”, ‘Haven’ and ‘I Was The Last One’ before the last track of the set ‘Your Life in Pictures’. This was a good acoustic set interspersed with a few amusing anecdotes from an experienced and accomplished front man. Her Name is Calla, who were already on my list of ‘Bands I need to see soon’ moved up a couple of notches in the priority list after this really good performance.

Laura Kidd, also known as She Makes War was next up to deliver her superb brand of gloom pop sporting her brand new sparkly Gibson guitar and she started her set with the ukelele intro to ‘Shields and Daggers’ followed by ‘Olympian’ taken from her first two CD’s “Disarm” and “Little Battles” respectively. A new song was next but she didn’t get very far with it as she messed it up, she started it again from the beginning but my tired old ears couldn’t discern any difference from the first attempt. I really liked this song but she didn’t introduce it by name, although ‘Drown me out’ would be a good guess as it was constantly repeated in the chorus. This track will probably appear on her 3rd studio CD which is currently in the process of being recorded. Back to the old stuff with ‘Delete’ and an appearance from the drum that caused her so much discomfort on the train ride up to York from Bristol. Another song that I didn’t recognise was next so it’s probably another from the 3rd CD, I’m not so sure about this one, it certainly wasn’t as good and catchy as Drown me out. That was the last of the new tracks and it was back to the old favourites with ‘Slow Puncture’ and finishing off with the excellent ‘In This Boat’ and ‘Scared to Capsize’. After the set Laura went round the audience handing out cards and talking with people in the crowd, not only a fantastically talented musician but also a musician that cares about her audience. Brilliant!!

Chris Helme and his band took to the stage just before 10pm, after saying hello to the audience the first thing he did was to get the crowd to show their appreciation for the two excellent supports. He started the set with the track Blindeye from his solo CD “The Rookery” and followed it up with a couple of old Yards songs called ‘Last High’ and ‘See the Lights’. During the intro to ‘See The Lights’ Chris had a bit of a rant about people talking through the music, especially as the next track was a quiet one, most people took notice but a couple unfortunately did not. A new song, never played live before called ‘World of my Own’ from the forthcoming new album was next, followed by ‘Sailing Home’. After some random girl interrupted a bemused Chris as he was preparing to start the next track to tell him that he was good, the Bass intro to ‘Tell me That I’m Wrong’ kicked in leading to some excellent electric guitar playing from Christian. Another old Yards song was next, the very quiet ‘Superhuman’ followed by the much heavier ‘The Spindle and the Cauldron’ and ‘Longway Round’ both also from The Rookery. Two more quiet tracks followed, ‘Set in Stone’ with some more excellent electric guitar playing from Christian and the nominal last song of their set which was ‘Darkest Days’ which saw Christian switch from electric to slide guitar. The band never left the stage just went straight into the encore which started with ‘Pleased’ with yet more excellent electric guitar from Christian, followed by another new song from the new album and finishing off with ‘Summer Girl’ to round off another brilliant gig.

Finally I’d like to thank the couple to the left and just behind me for continually talking through the set of all three bands. The two supports were too polite to remark about this but it really pissed Chris Helme off and he had a rant about audience chatter before starting ‘See The Lights’ which culminated in him shouting out “Shut The Fuck Up”. The audience started clapping and cheering at this and the female half of this couple of cretins to my left noticed everybody else clapping so she started clapping too, never once interrupting the conversation with her partner, totally oblivious to the fact Chris was telling her to be quiet. She even carried on talking after Chris had started the next track but the spells of silence became progressively longer until she was eventually only talking in the time between tracks. Mr and Mrs gobshite eventually got bored of talking over the bands singing & playing halfway through the track ‘Longway Round’ which was about 35 minutes into Chris’s set so they picked up their gear and went, much to the relief of everyone else around them.
This was a sold out show in the 100 capacity basement to 98 people who wanted to see and hear some excellent music and to 2 people who weren’t interested in any of the bands, just in talking to each other. The girl was tall and slim, wearing black trousers and a long sleeve black jumper. She was standing at the front of the crowd, just behind the long bench, directly in front of where Chris, the electric guitarist from Chris Helme’s band was sitting on the stage. I don’t know her name but if by some remote possibility you recognise yourself from this description then everything in this paragraph is directed to you. Next time you want to go to a gig, do the bands and the rest of the audience a big favour – and stay at home.